Through many years working as qualified Nurses within the NHS on both Critical Care and Accident & Emergency, we are aware that services for Children & Young People who suffer acute bereavement, within Staffordshire, are sadly lacking.
In Staffordshire alone, 260 parents per year have died leaving 440 dependent children and young people aged 0-17 years, this means on average, in Staffordshire, 3050 children of school age (5-16 years) have lost a parent or sibling. The incidence of childhood bereavement in youth offenders alone is 10 times higher (41%) than the national average (4%),( Child Bereavement network 2019).
Childhood Bereavement Network UK recognise that children and young people experience many emotions, dependent on age and level of understanding, when faced with death and dying. They can appear to have inconsistent and frequently changeable reactions which the Network terms as ‘Puddle Jumping’ rather than the consistent grieving behaviour pattern portrayed by an adult.
Our experience is that Children & Young People are considered innocent with childhood idealised to be a perfect entity in today’s society. Many families and healthcare professionals alike, avoid direct inclusion and/or communication with Children & Young People throughout the dying/grieving process. This may be due to many reasons however the common themes are not knowing how to break the bad news and not wanting to be the one who shatters the perceived innocence of the Child or Young Person.
Windmills aims to help families and carers shoulder this burden, and, in the first instance actively advocate the inclusion of Children/Young People in the death process, support them through or even deliver the breaking bad news conversations and plan a bespoke programme of support.