Coping with Death or Loss

Talking to young children about illness or death

It can be hard to know how to talk to young children if someone is very ill or has died – be it a pet, a friend or a member of the family. These amazing charities have ideas, advice and support, including helplines.

  • Winstons wish
    Supporting children and young people after a death or when someone in the family is dying. They have a helpline and you can also e-mail for support and advice. Leaflets are available to download in English, Swedish, Polish, Arabic, Bengali and Spanish.
  • Child Bereavement 
    An excellent website both for parents (and professionals) as well as children. This charity also has a lot of other sensitive advice including how to support babies, toddlers and young children when a loved one is very ill, a great booklist, and support for parents as well as a helpline. 
  • Macmillan
    Advice on talking to your child about cancer



  • Child Bereavement UK has an extensive list of recommended books for all ages.
  • Winston’s Wish:book lists for children of different ages, including one specifically for the under-fives called ‘Never Too Young to Grieve’.  
  • Mum’s jumper by Jade Perkins. A sad but also uplifting book about coping with death and loss. Available as part of the Reading Well scheme in your local library.
  • Badger’s Parting gifts by Susan Barley, suitable from about 3 years. 
  • Where are you? A child’s book about loss by Laura Olivieri. Simple illustrations suitable for pre-schoolers.
  • The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup. A story about a fox that dies – his friends’ happy memories of him grow into a beautiful tree.