Supporting siblings through bereavement
Talking about our feelings during bereavement can be extremely difficult, especially for children and young people who may not understand what they’re feeling or how to express their feelings.
At Rainbows, we’re here to help – and one way we do this is by offering support for bereaved siblings. This is available in the form of one-to-one support and group support.
This is proivided by our dedicated Sibling Support Worker, who spends time with a sibling to help them explore their feelings in whichever way is comfortable for the young person. There is no age limit on the one-to-one support, although it’s sometimes more appropriate that we work with parents to help them support siblings who are younger, or offering more formal counselling options if they are older.
Some of the best ways to help siblings to explore their feelings is to use play / arts and crafts activities, with sand, slime, paint and toys all being really useful ways to open up conversation and for children to express their thoughts and feelings. More directive activities such as making memory jars and photo albums, or using grief workbooks also help siblings express their feelings and understand their bereavement.
Group support sees siblings, aged five-years-old to 18-years-old come together and takepart in a range of activities. Some of these activities have a therapeutic aim, while others are just for fun.
The group environment allows siblings to be together with peers that have an understanding of their situation and gain support from each other. It’s really important that bereaved siblings are allowed to have fun and have some time away from their grief, but also have space to share their story thoughts and feelings.
Feedback from parents:
- Definitely positive. My daughter definitely benefited from meeting other bereaved siblings and hearing about their brothers and sisters.
- They are really good at helping siblings to talk about things, help them with grief, and lots of fantastic outings, the staff are amazing anyway and they go the extra mile to help make the sibling events possible.
- Our son always looks forward to these sessions. He’s a bit of a closed book but opens up and tells us he’s discussed his feelings which we know is a positive thing.
- Our children benefit from the dedicated time they receive. They get the chance to talk to others that really genuinely understand and draw strength from each other.
- My son has previously made some special memory items, photo frames, photo book, family tree, memory box, helps bring back some forgotten times but also prompts conversation.
- They do an amazing job. They get to be normal kids for a day/weekend with no disabilities or death in site.
We understand that families don’t get over the death of a child. However, they can find ways of living with the loss, and our bereavement support combined with our sibling support provides opportunities for families to explore new ways of living while holding on to precious memories of their children.
Find out more about our bereavement support services via rainbows.co.uk/support-families/care-rainbows/support-and-counselling