Chapter 4: Impact on family and friends

If you have children

Each of my children had their own relationship with my step-brother, as well as their own way of dealing with his death. I have let them know that this is normal, and that I am here whenever they need me.

My kids have been close with their aunt all of their life. She’s been like a “second mom” to them in some ways. Even though I’m grieving, I know that their grief is important too. They need a lot of love and support right now, and I’m doing my best to give them that and to answer their questions.

If you have children, you may be thinking about and wanting to support them. They have lost an aunt or uncle, and they may also be grieving. This may be their first experience of death, or it may be one of many. Your children will likely take their cues about how to grieve from you.

The ways you express or share your own grief and the way you talk with your children about death and grief can have a strong influence on how they will deal with these in the future. For example, if your children never see you express your feelings or talk about your grief, they may come to believe that grief is something to be kept private and experienced alone. By talking with your children, you can let them know that it’s okay to talk about the person who died and tell stories about them, whether happy, sad, or difficult. 

Young children or teens may express their grief differently than adults, and each child will have their own way of experiencing and expressing their grief. Their age, their personality, their relationship with their aunt or uncle, as well as the relationship you had with your sibling, will all influence their experience.

What may help

  • Each child also has their own grieving style. Your children may be grieving in different ways at different times. This is especially true for younger children, since their capacity to take in and understand their parent’s death will change as they mature.
  • Use available resources from your local library, bookstores, or websites about how to support grieving children.
  • Acknowledge the challenges in trying to balance your own needs with those of your children. Try to be patient and resist harsh self-judgment.
  • Accept any help you are offered and ask for help from family, friends, or others in your community when you need it. Let people know what is helpful and what is not.
  • If you think your children have needs that go beyond what you or others are able to provide, or if you feel unsure as to how they are doing, consult with an experienced grief counsellor. You and your children may also find a local or online support group for grieving children to be helpful. 
Helpful resources