Explaining death to a child has got to be one of the toughest tasks we have as parents. Here we have created a collection of books that will help children learn about sad news, explain death to them and help them grieve.

A 2020 survey of 350 widowed parents by the Childhood Bereavement Network has shown how the pandemic has deepened the sense of isolation felt by grieving families.

90% widowed parents say that feelings of loneliness or isolation have been more of a problem for them during the pandemic

80% report more loneliness or isolation among their grieving children

79% say that their grieving children have struggled more with worries and anxiety

There are many websites and online resources that offer help to bereaved families;

The Childhood Bereavement Network provides practical and emotional help to children, parents and family members experiencing the loss of someone close. Young children often struggle to articulate their feelings and will find comfort in Lost for Words, an online resource from family bereavement blogger and Life Matters chair Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, made up of thoughts, quotes and advice from bereaved children. It also has specialist advice and resources for schools and service providers.

Child Bereavement UK gives guidance and support to help young people learn to cope and understand their grief, with videos and downloadable resources aimed at both parents and children. There are also details on finding local support networks and a freephone helpline.

The Rainbow Trust is dedicated to supporting families with a seriously ill child and they have sensitive advice on help children cope with the death of a sibling. 

The NHS website has details of support centres and message boards which offer help for cchildren suffering, or about to, suffer loss. There are also links and details of practical help through counselling and mental health services.

Children's Grief Awareness Week runs annually in November and is a chance to show support for bereaved children across the UK. Its focus is to show solidarity with grieving children, young people and their families in their community, and to raise awareness of their needs and how to help. It also is an opportunity to fundraise for this essential service.

Whether it's mourning a family member or friend, or coming to terms with other losses, these books will support that grieving process, help open up difficult conversations and support them to understand how to cope. Here are a few we'd like to highlight to support right across the age ranges.

One of the doyens of picture books is the wonderful Oliver Jeffers and he does it again in The Heart and the Bottle. To overcome her sadness when her grandfather dies a little girl decides to protect her heart from any further suffering by putting it in a bottle. For a time it works, but living without a heart turns out to be living only part of a life and soon the little girl needs to get it back. Luckily, there is someone who can help her. A book to return to time and time again.

For the 5+ age range, we must highlight Grandad's Camper by Harry Woodgate, a beautiful picture book that honours love and reminds us not only to remember those we have lost, but to celebrate them. Gramps and Grandad were adventurers. They would surf, climb mountains, and tour the country in their amazing camper. But after Gramps died, Granddad hasn’t felt like travelling anymore. So, their granddaughter comes up with a clever plan to help cheer him up...

For readers 9+ we have to highlight the Star Book that is The Dream House. So beautiful, so powerfully moving, the ever-inventive Laura Dockrill has done it again with this incredibly honest, child-centred story about a boy’s struggle with terrible grief (and guilt) after losing his dad.