Child bereavement occurs when a child loses someone of importance in their life – a parent, sibling, or friend – changing that person’s life forever.
Some bereaved children might not express their loss and bottle up their feelings. Others may not think it’s not worth telling the university or college about their circumstances, because they feel like it’s not linked to their education. But, balancing education with grief and the difficulties that come with it is challenging, so it’s important to know there is support if, or when, it’s needed.
Every 22 minutes a child in Britain is bereaved of a parent, which equates to 24,000 new children each year learning to live with a powerful range of confusing and conflicting emotions. Bottled up, these emotions can have damaging consequences in later life for the individual, their family and society as a whole – Winston’s Wish
Universities have different levels of bereavement support, and there are many ways to find it.
Most universities have free counselling services, for students to talk about their grief and get any support they need. Most also have chaplains who support students in the practice of their faith. Check their websites for details.
If your university doesn’t have the right support for you, you can contact a child bereavement support charity:
- Child Bereavement UK – call 0800 028 8840 Monday – Friday, 09:00 until 17:00, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cruse Bereavement Care – call 0808 808 1677 Monday and Friday, 09:30 until 17:00, and Tuesday – Thursday 09:30 until 20:00, or email email@example.com
- Grief Encounter – call 0808 802 0111 Monday – Friday, 09:00 until 21:00, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Let's Talk About Loss – runs meet-ups across the UK for young people aged 18-35, providing a safe space to talk through taboos and grief
- Winston's Wish – call 08088 020 021 Monday – Friday, 08:00 until 20:00, or email email@example.com
(Founder and Director of Let's Talk About Loss)
My mum was diagnosed with cancer one month before I started university, and she died during the summer between second and third year.
Throughout university I felt distracted by what was happening at home and when I started third year, I felt I didn't care about my grades or doing well because I was feeling overwhelmed by grief.
I spoke to my personal tutor, who organised for me to get extenuating circumstances for my exams. I also spoke to my dissertation supervisor who was very supportive, and I got six free sessions of counselling from the university counselling service.
I still had a very tough year, but it was so important to make sure that everyone around me knew and was able to offer support and a bit of extra time and space – that really helped me get through my dissertation and exams.