Why it’s important to be open and honest with bereaved children.

By Rebecca Gascoigne, 21

My mum died from breast cancer when I was five and my sister was three years old. Because I was so young, the death of our mum was a topic not to be discussed and everyone thought I couldn't understand what was going on. There was no way I could process this, and that was difficult for me; I didn't understand the emotional side of grief, but I knew my life had changed. 

I felt different, as though no one else had experienced this and no one else was going through it. The fact that no one would talk to me about it, created this sense that I should feel guilty; I thought what I was feeling must be wrong and that I shouldn’t be feeling this way. 

As time has gone on, I feel I am in a place where I have accepted it and have moved on with my life. But for a good ten years after my mum died, it was really horrible. I had a tumultuous journey with grief and with accepting that my mum wasn't here anymore.  

In my experience, there is no use in hiding things or depriving children of experiences. Even if they’re little, children still have a level of understanding, and these things stay with you until adulthood and can have a lasting impact on your life.  

My advice to a parent who has lost a partner is to be honest and open with your children. In my experience, there is no use in hiding things or depriving children of experiences. Even if they’re little, children still have a level of understanding, and these things stay with you until adulthood and can have a lasting impact on your life.  

All of this could be made easier if parents were upfront and open with children. Don’t sugarcoat things because bereavement is horrible, there is no getting around that. Saying fake things doesn’t help, it just makes you more isolated, more alone and more guilty.  The real key for parents of bereaved children is supporting one other and being open and honest.