Supporting young members through grief

Thousands of children experience bereavement each year

06 December 2021

We’ll all experience grief at some point in our lives.

2 December to 8 December is National Grief Awareness Week and we want to help you talk about bereavement with young people in a safe and supportive way because the more we talk about death and grief, the less scary it will become for everyone.

We know you aren’t bereavement specialists, but you are trusted adults for Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. Girls’ understanding and response to bereavement will change with their age and all children will react differently to their loss. And during this time, Girlguiding can be really helpful for them as a safe space with supportive adults.

It might be daunting for you to talk to young members of Girlguiding about these topics, but we want to help you feel supported if these conversations come up.

Good ways to help young people, no matter what section they’re in, is actively listening, like making affirmative noises such as ‘uhuh’ and ‘mhm’, running activities to remember people who have passed away and creating a ‘talking time’ at the end of or during a meeting, where girls can chat to you as a trusted adult in a safe space.

There are several activities available in the Girlguiding programme that can be used as a starting point for talking about grief.

The Rainbows Turn them blue is a unit meeting activity which can help girls remember and celebrate someone. This could be adapted to make a blue plaque for someone who means a lot to them. Brownies and Guides try the Are you okay? activity from the First aid skills builder Stage 3 which can be used to help girls recognise different emotions and support. They could also have ago at Happy thoughts, an activity from Feel good skills builder Stage 3 that can be used to help girls create a glitter jar to process their thoughts.

Rangers can get involved with Give and take, a Feel good skills builder Stage 5 activity, to help girls understand how their actions can support each other’s mental wellbeing. Peer Education Think Resilient resources can also be used to help young people think about how they can develop their resilience and wellbeing during tough times.

But we know we can do more to help you talk about grief with young people. That’s why we’ve come together with Child Bereavement UK to create an activity for each section focused specifically on grief. In the resources, girls can help create a memory box in honour of a person who has died while talking, if they want, about their memories of the person.

We will also be sign posting to help services and end the activity with a grounding exercise. They’ll be launching in early 2022.

It’s important to talk about grief, but it’s also important for you to know their limits. It can be incredibly hard to have these conversations about death and bereavement and they might bring up memories of deaths you've experienced. You should make sure you take time to look after yourself too.

As well as Child Bereavement UK, you can point young members to charities such Winston’s Wish, Grief Encounter and Hope Again and the youth pages of The Good Grief Trust and Sue Ryder.