When someone dies by homicide (murder or manslaughter), challenges can be immense. They may include unwanted media attention, additional pain if the person responsible is known or is not convicted, and the fact that your world can now seem a very unsafe place.

Supporting a child when someone dies by homicide

When someone dies by homicide, the emotional impact of the sudden, violent loss is enormous for all family members and it can be extremely difficult for siblings and others close to the person. Children need support to help them deal with the truth, even though the truth is difficult or shocking. While it may seem kinder to withhold information, it is likely that a child will overhear a conversation, see something in the media or on social media, or be told by someone at school. It is much better that they are told in a safe place, by someone they are close to and who can support them on an ongoing basis. See our resources for  further guidance on telling a child that someone has died  and on supporting a child after a frightening event.

When your child dies by homicide

The death of a child of any age is devastating and when a child dies by homicide, your grief may be further complicated by the uncertainty, fear and the lack of control that can come with a death by murder or manslaughter. It may not be possible to view your child’s body and a funeral and other opportunities to remember your child's life may be delayed by the need for a police investigation or the involvement of the coroner. Ways to help you cope can include finding other ways in which to remember your child and ensuring you look after yourself at this very difficult time.

Friends and family are often a great support but, if you need to speak to someone outside the family, you may find it helpful to speak to a professional who can support you in a way that feels right for you, including from our support services.

What happens if a coroner needs to be involved?

If a coroner is involved, or there is a need for a post-mortem examination, this may affect the options of seeing the body of the person who has died, or it can delay arrangements for a funeral. This can make it very hard to believe what has happened or to start to grieve. There may also be media attention, especially when the death was violent, which can be particularly distressing and intrusive to the family.

Things that may help include knowing how to contact the professionals involved who can keep you informed, such as a Coroner’s Officer or Family Liaison Officer; having a friend or contact who may be able to help you keep in touch with agencies or liaise on your behalf; and being able to talk to someone – family and friends, or someone neutral such as a bereavement support professional on our Helpline.

For more on what happens in a Coroners’ Court, The Ministry of Justice has produced a guide to coroner services for bereaved people.

The Coroners' Court Support Service is an independent voluntary organisation whose trained volunteers offer emotional support and practical help to bereaved families, witnesses and others attending an Inquest at a Coroner’s Court.

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.