How to talk to children about The Queen’s death

On 8th September, Buckingham Palace announced that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, had died peacefully at Balmoral. The nation is now in a period of mourning, with the national conversation dominated with talk of the Queen.

Most children will be aware of the Queen’s death; so it’s important to talk about it.

At this unprecedented time of national mourning we are very much aware that children may be feeling worried, they may just be curious or have questions and a range of feelings that they will need help with, to begin to make sense of what is happening around them.

Some children may also have found the Queen’s death a trigger for another bereavement they have faced, their own more personal losses and for whom this may bring to the fore more complex feelings and memories. It can also trigger worries about other big changes occurring in the world, especially as we’ve experienced so much change in the past few years.

We need to be able to support children to express and share their thoughts and feelings and be open to having conversations about loss, sadness, grief and change.

At Hamish & Milo we are mindful of how conversations about loss, bereavement and grief can be difficult for children and how this can have a huge impact on children’s sense of safety and mental wellbeing. It is therefore vital that we can respond with care, honesty and validating empathy, listening to children’s perspective and helping them to feel safe to express how they feel.

Some ideas to help:

  • Be open and honest to avoid any confusion – young children are still learning that death is permanent so make sure they understand.

  • Use clear and simple language – accurate vocabulary such as ‘died’, ‘dead’ rather than ambiguous terms such as ‘passed on’, ‘lost’ or ‘gone’ particularly for young children whose language is developing.

  • Encourage them to ask questions – and revisit the conversation a few days later to check in as they may have more questions to ask and more thoughts to share as events happen.
  • Listen carefully to their perspective and be curious about their thoughts and awareness.

  • Validate their thoughts and feelings – repeat back what you’ve heard, which will validate their feelings.

  • Empathise and talk about your own emotions – acknowledge and normalise all feelings, say that it’s OK if the Queen’s death has left you feeling worried or sad. Sharing your feelings also creates a sense of unity and establishes yourself as a safe space to talk about emotions.

  • Use activities to help them to process their feelings – draw pictures, write thoughts down, watch the news together as a family, watch ceremonies and events that mark her death, watch documentaries about her life, create a memory box or book with special objects like coins, stamps, photographs from throughout her reign.

Hamish & Milo Queen Elizabeth II

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