Death of a parent
Loss and bereavement are big issues for children living in the care system and they have to try and learn to adapt and cope with these issues, sometimes alone. When children come into care they lose their families, can lose their friends, familiar people around them such as neighbor and school teachers. They move from there local area, losing some of their culture and possibly parts of their identity.
Death of a parent is something that lots of children care have to cope with and this can be incredibly difficult to deal with alongside living in care. Children and young people in care need to come to terms with the trauma.
Bereavements can happen whilst a child is living with foster carers, as parents may have long term drug and alcohol issues, chronic mental illness or life threatening illnesses. Sometimes the death may be anticipated , so the opportunity to visit the person, talk about death, what will happen, collect memories, write letters and prepare may be possible. Many deaths will be unpredictable and either way it is crucial that children and young people know what is happening.
Foster Carers caring for children
Foster carers should take the time to explain what has happened and be prepared to repeat the explanation time and time again over the weeks and months, allowing time for the young people to process and share memories.Funerals need to be discussed, what will happen, do the children want to be involved in the planning, do they want to attend and who will go with them?
Children and young people in care should be helped and supported in remembering things about the person who has died. They can write memories in life books or use memory boxes made out of old shoe boxes, decorated on the outside with pictures and other items that may represent the person who has died.
The inside of the boxes can be used to keep cards, medical information, family stories, memories of outings, photographs, presents, items of clothing, anything that can be used for ongoing remembrance and discussion.
Foster carers need to be aware of the need to listen again and again, in order to enable children to acknowledge their feelings and find safe ways to express them.
If you would like training on how to care for children who are grieving and coping with loss, please take a look at the training we provide here
If you require any further information related to children and bereavement, please take a look at Child Bereavement UK