Helping Your Child Grieve for a Family Member They Never Knew

May 13, 2022
Sad child thinking of someone who has died

Following our recent mini-series on children and bereavement, I have received an email from a parent asking if I can help with any suggestions on how to help their child following the recent tragic death of their baby cousin, who they hadn’t had chance to meet yet. 

The issue of grieving for someone you never knew is a complex one. There is a common misconception that we shouldn’t feel grief if we didn’t actually know someone, or if we knew them a long time ago but haven’t had contact for years.  But we only have to think of the outpouring of grief when Princess Diana died, for example, to realise that it is possible to feel a powerful sense of loss for someone we didn't have a relationship with.  

The truth is, grief is just not measured by intimate connection or amount of time spent with someone, but by what a person means to us, what they represent and additionally, in the case of a family member, the role they could have had in our lives.  Familial bonds are very powerful and stir up powerful feelings.

In this week’s video I unpack this in more depth, and suggest ways to help children deal with big feelings they may have about relatives who perhaps died before they were born, and those who have died before they got the chance to meet them.

I hope its helpful to you if you need to support your child with this kind of loss, or indeed if you yourself have experienced losing a family member you never had chance to meet.

Warmest wishes

Frances x   

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