While most children and young people cannot wait for the long school summer break, it can be a very different story if you are coping with the death of a parent or sibling. The summer holidays can be a challenging time for bereaved families.
Don’t suffer in silence. Grief Encounter’s free, confidential and national helpline grieftalk is open weekdays, 9am-9pm, for all bereaved individuals – help is just a phone call away 0808 802 0111, or try our web chat or email. Talking and letting your feelings out is so important and can often make all the difference. Sometimes you just need someone to listen.
Keep busy. Making plans, even if that’s planned activities at home, is sometimes exactly what you need. Join group activities online with families who know what you are experiencing.
Keep memory close. Look through some old photos or videos or talk with other people that knew your loved one well – keeping memories alive is really important and celebrating the life of your loved one is always comforting.
Teenagers do not always want to talk to adults about their sadness, but it doesn’t mean they are not feeling it. grieftalk has an online chat option which you may prefer. Look for the orange speech bubble in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Another excellent teen tool is the app Apart of Me: a free game designed to help young people cope with the death of a loved one. Users hear other young people’s stories as part of the game and there are meditation and breathing exercises which can help with anxiety.
Put some structure into your weeks. The summer holidays can feel vast in anticipation, but knowing that you have planned some fun activities or booked some day trips can mitigate against this. There are lots of free or low cost activities suited to different age groups – parks, libraries, visit a city farm, go on a bike ride or look for ideas online that are also covid-safe.
Release some happiness hormones. Get out and get some exercise. It may be the last thing you feel like doing but it will fill some time in your day and always makes you feel better. Be it cycling, swimming, a game of tennis in the park – when you exercise, the body releases endorphins and decreases the stress hormones like cortisol. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals and, when released during exercise, they trigger a positive feeling and naturally boost your mood. Exercise also releases other hormones like adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine, which work together to make you feel good and positive.
Some suggested books – reading can be very helpful:
How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies: Therese A. Rando
Option B: Sheryl Sandberg
Grief Works: Julia Samuel
The Other Side of Sadness: George A. Bonanno Ph.D
The Grief Survival Guide: Jeff Brazier
The Grief Encounter Workbook: Dr. Shelley Gilbert MBE
Calm your thoughts. Meditating is really powerful. It can benefit your sleep pattern by calming your mind. It takes practice but it can teach you how to control your mind when it gets stuck in a cycle of thought. It can also cultivate mental resilience, so you feel less reactive against stress. Some meditation clips we recommend can be found on YouTube Coping with Grief: Guided Spoken Meditation for healing after a loss of a loved one and Guided meditation of grief for loss of a loved one.
The Grief Encounter helpline, grieftalk can be contacted from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday. The grieftalk helpline number is 0808 802 0111, or you can chat online or even email us now, we are here to listen.