Coping with illness, death or loss

Talking to your child about death or illness

When someone in the family is very ill, dying or has died, everyone copes differently and even adults may find it difficult to express how they feel. Sometimes, as well as sadness, there may be other emotions such as anger or guilt. There are a number of charities that specifically offer support and guidance for children and young people who have experienced a death in the family- many of these also have helplines as well as stories from other families. For older children and for yourself, have a look at more resources on our secondary and young adult bereavement page



Support for families, helplines and more

  • Winstons wish
    Supporting children and young people after a death or when someone in the family is dying. Very good at explaining some of the misunderstandings that can arise for children when adults talk about death. 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.
  • Hope Support offers free online support for any young person aged 5-25 years with a family member who has a serious illness
  • Child Bereavement 
    A charity with resources for young people and parents including some stories, advice on explaining funerals and leaflets produced by families for children of different ages (under 7yrs, 7-11yrs and young people) For 11-25-year-olds they have also produced an App about bereavement and grief which has links for local support and some short films.
  • The Good Grief Trust  There are also videos, blogs and suggestions on the young people’s page from children and young people who have lost someone they love.
  • Hope Again is the young people’s website from Cruse with personal stories, videos and the chance to add your own story if you would like to.
  • Grief Encounter A charity supporting children and young people through bereavement. They also have a helpline called Grieftalk which is open Monday to Friday 9 am to 9 pm, plus the possibility of chatting online, posting memories or receiving support by text. 


  • Apart of Me App: award-winning App designed as a game to help children come to terms with loss and grief. 


  • The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst. A lovely gentle story about losing a favourite cat. 
  • Mum’s Jumper by Jayde Perkin. Suitable for both younger and older children. Available in your local library as part of the Reading Well scheme.
  • Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr. Mog the cat finally gets very tired and old and just wants to sleep forever. 
  • If All the World Were by Joseph Coelho. A beautifully illustrated book about a young girl who loses her grandfather. Find it in your local library as part of the Reading Well scheme.
  • Her Mother’s Face by Roddy Doyle.A tender story of a ten-year-old girl coming to terms with her mother’s death. 
  • Winston’s Wish This children’s charity has produced some excellent books about grief, serious illness and death (including death by suicide) for children e.g. “A Child’s Grief: Supporting a Child When Someone in Their Family Has Died” by Di Stubbs or “Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine “ for 5+ years. These books can be purchased on Amazon and proceeds go to the charity or directly on the charity website
  • Bridge to Terabitha by Katherine Paterson (10+ years) 
  • Clownfish by Alan Durant about Daks’ dad who reappears as a clownfish after having died a week earlier: “a moving and funny story about friendship and life after loss’ 9+ years.Available at your local library as part of the Reading Well scheme.
  • Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson (10+ years) About a girl moving on after her friend’s death – sad, heartwarming and funny.