Child Bereavement Support Team working with Dr Ian Newey
Nelson’s Journey is delighted to announce that our Child Bereavement Support Team is being supported by Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr Ian Newey. Ian is working with our Support Workers to help them further develop their practice with bereaved children, including through the provision of supervision support to the team.
Ian has a special interest in helping people understand the social and psychological factors that have led to their difficulties and has particular expertise working with children and young people with a history of trauma, traumatic bereavement, disrupted attachment, invalidation, and abuse. He has training in EMDR, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy.
Ian has been interested in the impact of bereavement on children and young people for many years and first worked in partnership with Nelson’s Journey in 2014.
Dr Newey achieved a B.Sc.(Hons) in Psychology at the University of Wales, Bangor in 1993, an M.Sc. in Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 1998 and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Clin.Psy.D.) at the University of East Anglia in 2001. He is a member of the Division of Clinical Psychology and the Faculty for Children, Young People & their Families. Ian is a BPS Chartered Psychologist, is HCPC Registered and has over 25 years’ experience of with Children and their families.
National Day of Reflection: Tuesday 23 March 2021
Norfolk child bereavement charity Nelson’s Journey is supporting the National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23 March, and encouraging families to be aware of any activity in schools that may affect their children.
There have been thousands of deaths in Norfolk since the start of the first lockdown due to several causes, including coronavirus. Children who’ve experienced the death of someone significant in their lives have in some cases been unable to attend funerals and memorial events, or meet up with friends and family members who would otherwise be there in person to support them. The National Day of Reflection is a welcome opportunity to reflect as a community on those who’ve died and how we can support each other.
Our Bereavement Support Team suggest that families may wish to speak to their children’s schools if someone has died. We expect a number of Norfolk schools to mark the National Day of Reflection, and children in school on the day may want to be prepared for that. It may be helpful for teachers to be aware of any experiences of death, and how bereaved families feel that their children’s responses to grief can be best managed in school.
Nelson’s Journey’s Support Line service is open for bereaved families to contact by phone on 01603 431788 and email at email@example.com
The National Day of Reflection has been spear-headed by Marie Curie, with more information at: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/day-of-reflection
An activity that families can do together on 23 March
On the National Day of Reflection, families could use our Memory Bricks activity to share their memories about the special person who died. You can download and print your own Memory Bricks to use here. Otherwise, you could work together and produce a poster or piece of artwork to capture your memories.
So much has happened over the last few months and lots of children and young people have spent extended periods of time at home, not been able to go out and been home schooled. Now they are returning back to school and so they probably have lots of thoughts going through their heads about what to expect.
Our Child Bereavement Support Workers here at Nelson’s Journey have a few tips for any bereaved child or young person going back to school:
Fiona’s Tip: “You won’t be the only person who will be worried about going back to school. It is okay to talk to your friends and tell them the things you are worried about”.
Duncan’s Tip: “If you need to know some information or are worried about anything at all, then make sure you speak to an adult in school who you trust. They will want to help you.”
Adam’s Tip: “If you have experienced a bereavement recently, then you may be worried about what to tell people or what help you might need in school. Plan for this by writing down the bits of your story that you are happy to share with others (e.g. friends, teachers) and also a list of things you feel may help you in school. Share this with a member of school staff and talk through how they can help you”.
Lisa’s Tip: “Before you go back to school, talk to your parent/carer and explain the things that you’ve been thinking about that worry you. Write them down on a piece of paper. After your first day back at school, look at the list again with your parent/carer and talk about how things went for you. Sometimes we just need to try something different before we realise that it is okay and that we didn’t need to worry about it so much.”
Amy’s Tip: “If you are allowed to, put something small from home in your pocket like a button, photo or something similar. If you are feeling worried during the school day (and miss being at home) you can touch your pocket or hold the object for a short time to make you feel better and remind yourself that people care for you.”.
If you are an adult supporting a bereaved child on their return to school, then make sure the staff know if your child has any concerns or worries. This is really important if your child has experienced a bereavement recently, as the school staff may not know. If your child is starting at a new school then please be extra patient as they get to learn their way around a new environment. Remember, if your child needs extra support then please ask for it as the staff will want to make sure that help is put in place.
Children and young people may find it difficult to cope with their return to school, as it will feel so different for a while, but with extra adult support they will soon get back into a routine.
A brilliant free information book explaining the coronavirus to children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler has been released.
The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds (although we feel it is helpful for other ages too):
• What is the coronavirus?
• How do you catch the coronavirus?
• What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
• Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
• Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
• Why are some places we normally go to closed?
• What can I do to help?
• What’s going to happen next?
Lisa Wright, Child Bereavement Support Worker at Nelson’s Journey has read the book and said “I thought it was honest, informative and reassuring – for children and adults alike”.
At Nelson’s Journey, we are aware that some children and young people that we are currently working with are experiencing increased levels of anxiety around other people in their lives dying. We feel this book will be helpful in providing children with a greater level of understanding.
To access the free book, simply click this link https://tinyurl.com/s5knorv
Connecting with each other:
We are all currently facing lots of uncertainty and change due to the Coronavirus situation. Life at the moment may be making you feel worried and that things are a little out of control. There are lots of people we can stay connected with to help our physical and emotional health and well-being at this time. Below are a few ideas to help you stay connected, healthy and supported.
Don’t forget your family and friends!
We can stay connected even if we have to self-isolate! Get creative and think of ways you can stay connected with the people you know.
- Celebrate a special occasion together via a video chat
- Walk/run/cycle as a household
- Mail a letter or email to an old friend
- Teach someone a new skill
- Play games
- Set up a group chat
- Share photos
- Phone someone
- Help to a neighbour-from a social distance
- Smile at others J
If you need a little extra support there are plenty of others willing to help. Here are a few ideas for children and young people and other members of your family:
Action for Happiness website: https://actionforhappiness.org/calendars
Monthly calendars packed with actions you can take to help create a happier and kinder world.
Just One Norfolk website: https://www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk//
A local resource providing an app and advice on all aspects of life for a child/ young person. Specific information about emotional health for young people and parents.
Young Minds website: https://youngminds.org.uk//
Lots of information about young people’s mental health, with various resources available. A parents’ helpline is also available.
ChildLine website: https://www.childline.org.uk//
Lots of advice for children, young people and parents/ carers. Plenty of ideas for activities too.
NHS Change for Life: www.nhs.uk/change4life
At home we’ll have easier access to snacks and treats! Try to keep a routine to mealtimes and choose foods that will nourish your mind and body.
A text messaging service for 11-19 year olds available Monday-Friday 9-5. If your child would like to chat to an experienced clinician about a health related matter. Text 07480 635060
We have put this information together based on recent announcements from the Government and advice from the National Association of Funeral Directors. Please bear in mind that funeral arrangements may have to change again in the future as the Government’s response to COVID-19 develops.
This guidance is aimed at parents/carers of children and young people who have experienced a recent death and who may need some support in helping their child at this very challenging time. Funerals (and the lead up to them) may not be what we expect due to the various restrictions that are currently having to be imposed in order to protect public health. It may be very upsetting for families to plan funerals in this limited way as it very unlikely they can have the funeral they would’ve wanted to say their goodbyes to their loved one. Children and young people are likely to have lots of questions so we hope this guide will help.
Some children might want to see the person who has died, not least as this would usually help them to understand what’s happened, give them a chance to say goodbye and allow them to accept the reality of the death. This may be more unlikely at the moment due to the viral outbreak. You will need to discuss this with your Funeral Director who will confirm if a visit to the Chapel of Rest is possible or not for family members. If a child cannot visit then perhaps encourage them to write a letter or draw a picture for their special person and ask them to share this with you. They may want it to be a private message where they get to say their own ‘goodbye’ to the person so you may have to respect their privacy. The letter or drawing could go in the coffin or the grave (with the help of your Funeral Director) or another special place e.g. a memory box.
Arranging a Funeral
Due to the current restrictions on having close contact, and the rules of social distancing, your communication with a Funeral Director may be limited, this may be done virtually (e.g. via Skype or Zoom) or by phone. Talk to your child about any questions they may have for the Funeral Director, ensure they have clear information as the arrangements progress and have the opportunity to think of other ways that you can all remember the person who has died. We have provided some suggestions for you below.
Funerals are usually an opportunity for families to come together and for people to pay their respects and say goodbye. In normal circumstances these can be attended by a lot of people. Unfortunately the virus means that the numbers of people allowed to attend a funeral will be limited and only a few direct family members will be permitted to attend. This may mean that children who wish to attend are unable to, which may be upsetting for them. Be honest with them and explain that it’s because of limited numbers and that families will have to decide who will attend based on their relationship to the person who’s died and whether some members of the family are in isolation and therefore not allowed to go. You could draw a family tree or diagram to help demonstrate who is/isn’t attending. Be careful to explain why a person is able to attend and the fact that there will be many other people who won’t have the opportunity to attend either. See example below.
Some Funeral Directors may provide the opportunity to have the funeral service streamed online, if not, discuss what other options may be available for recording the service. This is a good way to include any child/ren and other family members that can’t attend.
If children are attending, explain that they must be sitting with other members of their own household because of current social distancing guidelines. They will not be able to have close contact with people outside their household, which may be difficult for them as many of us seek comfort from others at funerals. This is also part of the Government guidance to prevent the spread of the virus. If they have attended a funeral before then this experience may feel very different, e.g. family are unlikely to travel in chauffeured funeral cars to the service.
Due to an interruption in supply of flowers at this time, you may not be able to order flowers for the funeral. Perhaps the child/ren could make paper flowers or cut some from your garden to create a special posy for you to take. Even a single flower chosen by them may provide some comfort.
After the funeral service it’s traditional to have a gathering (often called a wake) to celebrate the person’s life. This is unlikely to take place but it doesn’t stop you from celebrating the person’s life as a family. Here are some ideas to help you remember them and celebrate their life:
- Arrange a virtual meet up with family members and friends where you can share stories and memories together, perhaps think of a theme, maybe wear their favourite colour.
- Share the eulogies and readings from the service.
- Ask people to light a candle (at their home) in memory of the person who has died. You could organise it so everyone lights their candle on an agreed day and time to make it feel more special.
- Set up an online memorial page and encourage people to add their memories and photos.
- Create a memory box.
- Play the person’s favourite music and just take time to remember them.
- Arrange a celebration or memorial service for later in the year (perhaps on a significant date) so everyone has the opportunity to say goodbye.
- Consider an online fundraising page to support a charity of that person’s choice.
- When the current social distancing guidelines have been relaxed you could arrange to visit the grave.
Reassure your child that the current restrictions are only temporary, they won’t be forever. Keep in contact with the Funeral Director and be guided by what they say as they will know the current regulations and will be happy to help you.
It’s a very uncertain time for us all, with many of us becoming anxious about the changes being encouraged in our daily lives. For a child that has already suffered bereavement, you may find them to be additionally anxious with the media focussing so heavily on the topic of Coronavirus and potential death.
Here are some steps you can take to try to reduce their anxiety:
- Focus on what you CAN control. Write down their worries and discuss what you can do to reduce them. For example, if your child is worried that their relative may contract coronavirus or die, help them to understand what you can do as a family by following NHS guidelines. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Reassure that these measures aren’t forever, but just for now.
- Explain to children that there are lot of people who have recovered from Coronavirus and not everybody will die from it. Most people have a temperature and cough so will need to be treated to relieve the symptoms. It’s mostly dangerous/concerning to people who have other health problems and that’s why we need to stay away from them for now.
- If someone is not considered high risk – explain this to them and why. If they are considered high risk, what are the measures in place to look after them?
We can never promise a child that someone won’t die, but we can help them understand how LIKELY it is.
- It may reassure children to speak to their loved ones. Phone calls and video calls will not only show your child that their loved one is ok, but for those who are self –isolating it will cheer them up.
- There are lots of websites and apps which can help with mindfulness such as calm, headspace or https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/apple.htm
- Try to avoid the phrase, ‘don’t worry about it.’ Instead, try to give accurate, age appropriate information. Of course we don’t want our children to worry, but the clearer their understanding is, the less they will need to worry. What they don’t understand, they will look up on the Internet or their imagination will create.
- Try not to show panic or fear in front of children. They will pick up on the feelings of those they trust most.
- Ensure they are only taking on news from respectable sources. Explain that the media usually only focusses on negative things, not positive. Can you make a list of 5 good things that have happened in the last week?
- Discuss normal every day and positive things, especially before bedtime. Perhaps read a book so they go to sleep thinking of positive things.
- Where possible, try to stick to routine as this can help children feel safe.
- We are being encouraged to social distance for all of the right reasons, but can you have a little fun with it?! Ask your children what they would like to do and try some new ideas. Arts and crafts, films, playing in the garden etc.
- Above all, do nice things for yourselves and for others. This is a very challenging time for us all, but it can also be a learning experience. A chance for your children to learn how we can all come together to help each other in a time of need.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Following the recent developments regarding coronavirus and subsequent advice from Public Health England, we have taken the decision to pause our face to face support with bereaved children and young people and cancel the Nelson’s Journey Easter egg hunt.
All families with support sessions (both 1:1 and our planned therapeutic weekend) booked to take place between now and the end of March will be contacted by the Child Bereavement Support Worker to discuss and we will be reviewing the situation at the beginning of April.
All those that have booked tickets to attend the Easter egg hunt will be contacted today.
Our main priority is the health and safety of the children and families that we work with, supporters, staff team and wider community, and we do not want to put anyone at unnecessary risk.
As you can appreciate, these uncertain times will have an impact across the economy and are a concern to us as a charity reliant on support from the local community to exist. Please bear with us and we will provide further updates as things change.
We apologise to anyone this may affect and are sending our very best wishes to all who are being impacted by this virus.
We have enabled our staff to work from home wherever possible and we are working to try and ensure our Support Line remains accessible enabling those with concerns for the wellbeing of bereaved children and young people to speak with a Child Bereavement Support Worker over the telephone.
We will keep you all updated as the situation changes. Thank you for your support and patience.
All at Nelson’s Journey
Nelson’s Journey reveal new educational bereavement resource
Nelson’s Journey has recently launched a new educational resource with support from Wymondham based toy manufacturer Orchard Toys Ltd. The Smiles & Tears resource will help young people to better understand the impact a significant bereavement can have on their peers, and encourage children and young people to talk about their feelings and views regarding the subject of death, dying and bereavement.
The ‘Smiles and Tears’ resource is a team based discussion tool aimed at groups of young people aged 10-17. It is structured similarly to a traditional board game, with teams moving their pieces around a large vinyl matt and considering discussion and question cards relating to the journey of young people following the death of a special person. Teams reflect on how bereaved children and young people may feel and react in different situations whilst also educating them in how to support peers who may have had a similar experience.
The idea was generated by the Nelson’s Journey Youth Panel and young volunteers when they were discussing how Nelson’s Journey could develop new approaches to support Norfolk’s bereaved children and young people. One young volunteer had been involved in an educational project taken into schools regarding the criminal justice system and felt that a similar approach could work around bereavement.
Jack was 11yrs when his Mum died, reflecting on his time when at high school he said “I was new to my school and we were playing a game to get to know each other. Another pupil said “If you have a Mum, stand-up” I stayed sitting down and my teacher said “Why haven’t you got up, you are cheating”, I explained that I don’t have a Mum and that she had died and he said “well you did have one, so stand up”. I was really angry and my Dad ended up speaking to the school and the teacher apologised. I think the new resource will help young people and school staff to better understand how they can support bereaved young people like me.”
Simon Wright, Chief Executive at Nelson’s Journey said “We need to break through the taboo of talking about death and grief, and support young people to feel comfortable in having those conversations. We’re grateful for the support of Orchard Toys and proud of our young volunteers and staff who have worked hard to create a resource that will encourage those conversations. We believe that this is the only resource of its kind in the UK”.
Ali Brown, Marketing Manager at Orchard Toys says “We are very proud to have been involved in developing this innovative resource with the Nelson’s Journey Youth Panel and young volunteers. It has been a pleasure to work with the Nelsons Journey team, on a resource that is very different in topic and style to our traditional educational games. Our design team have been very passionate about the project and have worked hard to create a resource that looks engaging and will encourage children and young people to participate.”
Schools and youth groups can register their interest in using the Smiles & Tears resource with young people by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01603 431788