Guest Blogger Series: Winnettes – Explaining Bereavement to a child

Guest Blogger Series: Winnettes – Explaining Bereavement to a child

I have a had such a positive response to this Guest Blogger Series that I have decided to post another sooner than planned. Why hang on to brilliant content by brilliant bloggers when it can be out there for all to read?! This week the lovely Kirsty from Winnettes is taking the reins and is talking about explaining bereavement to a child. Over to Kirsty…

“Hello. I’m Kirsty, married with two daughters, Ellie (3) and Trixie (2). I blog about parenting and the baking that we do. We are born and bred British and therefore struggle to say no to tea and cake (or a queue). In my house the kettle is always on”.

Winnettes Bereavement

Explaining Bereavement to a child

Death is a fact of life.  It is completely unavoidable; it comes to us all at some point.  When I was nursing I worked on a ward where sadly death was something I was very familiar with.  Not only that but a sense of bereavement and loss.  As a stroke ward many patients and their relatives mourned the loss of mobility, the loss of faculties, the loss of speech.  There is a lot of evidence that suggests a huge change like this initiates a strong emotional process for those involved, not just the patient. (https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-stroke/common-problems-after-stroke/emotional-changes)

This is part of the reason I don’t miss that career.  By the grand old age of 27 I was getting depressingly good and knowing which of my patients didn’t have long left in this world.  It is not a skill or intuition I have ever wanted.  Of course the odd person would slip through my intuitive net and my Granny was one of them.

She wasn’t my patient, I had quit nursing by then, she was simply my Granny.  I had seen her two weeks before and despite her usual aches and pains she was in really good spirits.  Then one day I received the call from my Mum that she has passed away.  It was sudden and it was a shock.  She went quickly and certainly wouldn’t have known much about it.  Now perhaps my working experience has helped me in many ways.  Naturally I was sad about it at first but then I began to think about it all.  I mean really think about it.

Granny was old.  Ok, not ancient by any stretch but she had lived a good life and even though she felt young at heart her body had aged beyond its years.  She has a medical history not just as long as my arm but the length of my head to my toes.  Logically it is only thanks to the marvels of medical science she lasted past 50.

Granny was happy.  She was really happy, despite having lost her husband a few years ago she had found a companion.  She had started playing bowls and made some really good friends.  Her social life was busier than anyone else I know!

Granny had things to look forward to.  She was meant to go to America in April to see her sister and the rest of the family.  She had a business class ticket booked courtesy of her nephew and she was so excited about it all.

She passed away quickly.  As I said before, she wouldn’t have known much about what was going on, there was no prolonged hospital stay and she died with all her marbles still firmly in the bag.

I have no regrets.  This may be selfish but lets all be brutally honest with ourselves.  Much of our grief stems from the dark place of regret.   You didn’t say the things you wish you had said.  You didn’t see them enough, tell them you loved them enough, and show them how much they meant to you.  Well I did all of that and very recently.  I have seen her and my grandma once a month for quite a while now.  We all regularly put the world to rights.  I had seen her two weeks previously where I had cooked for her, she had played with the girls and we had chatted for hours.  I spoke to her on the phone for over half an hour on Christmas Eve and I told her things I would never tell anyone else in my family.  We were close and I have no regrets.

So all in all I feel pretty ok with her passing.  So why can’t I tell my daughter?

bereavement guest blog

Trixie is too young to really understand or even notice her absence.  Ellie isn’t.  We are going to see Grandma still, of course, and Granny won’t be there.  Ellie will notice.  She was there when I received the phone call but it was past her bedtime so Hubby quickly whisked her off to give me some privacy.  Since then I have pretty much avoided the subject in front of her.  It isn’t that she is unfamiliar with the concept of death.  We had many in depth conversations about it around Remembrance Day but she hasn’t experienced it within the family yet.  I don’t believe it will even bother her that much.  Ellie was very fond of Granny but this doesn’t affect her day-to-day life and when we go on our monthly visits she will still get chocolate biscuits and ice cream.

I have done some research on the matter and everything says you should be up front and honest.  Many resources claim that using phrases such as ‘gone away’ or ‘passed on’ is not helpful as children think far more literally.  Although to an adult ear the word ‘dead’ or ‘died’ is really harsh or blunt it is the only final phrase children will accurately process.  It signifies an end.  (http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/death.html)

There is a brilliant website http://childbereavementuk.org that offers some really helpful advice on child berevement.  It also highlights how children can process and understand bereavement according to their age and developmental stage. (http://childbereavementuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/1.4-Childrens-Understanding-of-Death-at-different-ages-1.pdf?noredir=true)

winnettes bereavement

Fortunately Granny isn’t having a funeral because despite what some people may think I wouldn’t have taken the girls.  Each to their own, but for me a funeral is a place to say goodbye and I don’t think the girls are old enough to appreciate that but too old to keep happy in a pushchair.  I have been to more funerals for friends of my own age than I would have liked by now and because of this I don’t want to expose them to it yet.  It is the right choice for us.  That said there is a party for her, a memorial of sorts where there will be upbeat music and food.  They will more than likely come with us to that but there is still time for me to change my mind.

I am hoping that when the time comes to answering Ellie’s questions I have processed my own grief enough to answer them truthfully and eloquently without too much emotion.  She feeds off my feelings so keeping a level voice is going to be essential to help her accept Granny dying and to ensure she doesn’t focus on it for weeks to come.


Kirsty blogs at Winnettes and is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


I want to say a huge thank you to Kirsty for sharing such a personal post with us, during what must be a difficult time. Our thoughts are with you Kirsty. Don’t forget to grab your ‘featured on’ badge from the bottom of the page.

If you would like to get involved in the Guest Blogger Series, drop me a message by filling in the form on my Contact Me page. I look forward to hearing from you.




  1. 10th February 2017 / 1:01 pm

    Such an honest, heartfelt post. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ll find the right words with your little girl when the time is right for you both, Kirsty.

  2. 11th February 2017 / 3:49 am

    That’s definitely a touch topic. Not looking forward to having that conversation with Peachy. #PoCoLo

  3. 11th February 2017 / 5:31 pm

    Back from #fortheloveofBLOG. Looking forward to reading more in your series!

    • Jaki
      12th February 2017 / 7:51 pm

      Ah thank you 🙂

    • Jaki
      12th February 2017 / 7:50 pm

      My pleasure lovely, I’ve just approved all the comments so feel free to have a look and reply if you want 🙂 xx

  4. 12th February 2017 / 9:36 am

    I would like to say “I hope I never have to go through this” but as you say, death will touch each of our lives. Completely unavoidable. I haven’t experienced the death of anyone close to me before and to be honest, I don’t know how I’ll handle it when it does happen. It’s impossible to know a thing like that ahead of time. And I certainly don’t know how I will tell my daughter, assuming she is old enough at the time.
    I’ll just say it anyway, because impossible or not: I hope I never have to go through this.

  5. CaptainKirt
    12th February 2017 / 5:31 pm

    I’ve been where you are. I’ve had that difficult conversation. I don’t envy you but my thoughts are with you.

  6. 12th February 2017 / 7:14 pm

    My girls have spoken of death a few times. My mum passed away before they were born so explaining to them what happened has been something I’ve had to do. I don’t think they quite grasp it, but they have a pretty good idea, I think. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  7. Nige
    12th February 2017 / 7:33 pm

    A very difficult subject but handled so well beautifully written post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

    • Jaki
      12th February 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Thank you. Much appreciated 🙂

  8. 13th February 2017 / 1:20 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Death is such a difficult subject, made even harder when there are children involved. I’m sure you will find the right word’s for your children when you are ready x

    Thanks so much for linking such a heartfelt post to #Blogstravaganza xx

  9. 14th February 2017 / 8:40 pm

    It is very difficult explaining death to children but I do agree that we need to be straightforward about what has happened and use clear language. My sincere condolences. #DreamTeam

  10. 14th February 2017 / 9:41 pm

    This really made me think as we haven’t had to talk to the children yet about death, but it’s certainly given me a lot to think about! Thanks for joining us #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. AM
    15th February 2017 / 5:30 pm

    What a lovely honest post. Thank you for sharing. Must be so difficult to have to explain a loss like this to your children, but sounds like you’ve had more experience (sadly) than most to do it sensitively.

  12. Stacey Oakes
    15th February 2017 / 7:16 pm

    A friend is now going through the sad time of visiting a grandparent who is sadly dying with a terminal diagnosis. They are totally unsure of how to explain this awful process and whats to come. I’ll pass on these pearls of wisdom. #Familyfun

  13. 15th February 2017 / 7:46 pm

    So sorry fo your loss, It is difficult explaining that to children. My kids lost their grandma last year and the whole process was very difficult. I still don’t think they quite understand. They know she is gone, but I don’t think they know the finality of it. #bestandworst

  14. 15th February 2017 / 7:50 pm

    I need to check this out really a bit more as my daughter is 3 and we have talked about death already a lot. My mate and I were talking about George Michael today and she blurted out “George Michael has died” and asked what it meant again. I have tried to be as honest as I can but tried not to scare her. It;s really tough. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst xx

  15. 15th February 2017 / 8:48 pm

    We have recently had to approach this subject with our eldest who has suddenly taken on a fascination with dying and it has had me in tears so many times. I can only imagine how painful and difficult it must be to have to apply this to losing someone so very precious. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this sad but honest and beautifully written post Kirsty, and thank you for linking up with us at #DreamTeam Jaki xx

  16. 17th February 2017 / 1:59 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m glad you got to spend time with her before she passed. Explaining it to children is so hard but they always seem to handle it better than you think they will.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

  17. 17th February 2017 / 4:19 pm

    Beautifully written and so thoughtful. Thanks for not sitting on this and publishing sooner than you thought you would. #ablogginggoodtime xx

  18. 17th February 2017 / 7:48 pm

    Oh I am sorry to read this. It must be very tough when the little ones are concerned. I haven’t had to deal with it yet my time will defineitly come. I will be sure to bookmark these links as they are really helpful. Thanks for sharing at #familyfun xx

  19. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    18th February 2017 / 7:22 pm

    So sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you had a lovely relationship with her. I have to admit that the thought of how to explain death to my son hasn’t really even crossed my mind, but given that I have two Grandparents myself, one in his 90s and the other not in good health, I suppose it’s a reality that I need to think about. Thanks for sharing this – I’m sure it will be helpful to lots of people. And thanks Jaki for linking up to #SharingtheBlogLove

  20. 19th February 2017 / 1:53 pm

    It’s a tricky one isn’t it, but I think you have to do what feels right for each of your children. Sadly I’ve been to too many peer funerals too and they don’t get any easier. A thought provoking post and clearly a sad experience for all, thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

  21. 20th February 2017 / 7:18 pm

    Kirsty, I am so sorry for your loss. It is such a hard thing to do, Hubby works in a mortuary and although i hear stories and he deals with it on a day to day basis, to explain a relatives passing to Ben is one thing I have no idea where to begin.
    I know the way you decide to approach this subject will be right for you. #sharingthebloglove

  22. 22nd February 2017 / 11:09 am

    My nan sadly passed away last year and Holly was too young to understand. But Alice wasn’t and she had to told that great nan had passed away. I waited until I was strong enough to tell her, so that I didn’t break down myself. She handled it better than me and yes she had questions over the coming weeks, but it was all because her mind was processing the information. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  23. 14th March 2017 / 8:13 pm

    What a grave post to share. I am so sorry for your loss Kirsty. I would agree that being completely honest with children is the best way, yes it’s difficult and it can be hard not to let emotions show but not saying anything is just not an option, at least for me.
    Great post, thanks for sharing.
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo
    (Sorry for the epically late comment!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.