I started my teaching career back in 1991 in a Junior School in Bristol. I was 24 years old, I thought I knew everything there was to know and I was ready to share that knowledge with the 33 children in my class of 9, 10 and 11 year olds. At my first parents’ evening I had notes on each child, work folders to share and lots of things to say but I was totally unprepared for what was to come when Mark’s* parents sat down. Mark’s Dad had a brain tumor and his life expectancy was very short, Mark’s Mum and Dad asked me to help prepare their son for his Dad’s death and to support him and his friends after his Dad had passed away. I wish that the resource pack that I have just received from Co-operative Funeralcare had existed back then when I was trying to help that 11 year old boy find his path through his grief.
Bereavement is a difficult subject for many and the reality is that in the UK a parent of a dependent child will die every 22 minutes, leaving 41,000 children without a parent each year. In addition to this, currently in the UK 309,000 children aged between five and 16 years old have been bereaved of a parent or sibling and for many children the loss of a grandparent is their first experience of loss.
Teaming up with Child Bereavement, Trauma and Emotional Wellbeing Service (CHUMS), The Co-operative Funeralcare has launched a series of short animated films aimed at helping bereaved children to cope with the loss of a loved one.
The films are being offered as a free resource to local schools, medical professionals, community groups and bereaved families. The four animated films include ‘Our Year Since Dad Died’ and ‘Our Year Since Grandma Died’ and look at issues young people face when losing a parent or grandparent.
Each DVD also comes with downloadable resources to help children and young people understand their grief and the grief of others, to understand what they are feeling and why and to encourage open discussion and communication.
The launch follows on from the success of The Co-operative Funeralcare’s Amy and Tom books, which were a tool for bereaved primary school children and distributed free to over 25,000 family liaison officers, schools, bereaved families and medical professionals across the country.
Dawn Hewitt, Chief Executive Officer of CHUMS said: “We know that grief can feel overwhelming, confusing, painful and lonely. At CHUMS we offer a variety of interventions, in order to support children and young people in their grief when someone close to them has died. Through the medium of animation, the DVDs can help children and young people relate to their own experience and help them recognise that they are not on their own.
Schools, community groups and specialised bereavement services such as CHUMS all play an important role in supporting bereaved children and young people. Support and resources such as the DVDs can make a profound difference, not only at the time of a child’s loss but also for their long term emotional wellbeing and resilience.”
The short animated films have been produced by Angel Studios and are available for free on request from The Co-operative Funeralcare in your local area.
*Names have been changed
Disclosure: This post has been produced in association with Cooperative Funeralcare