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This Grief Awareness Week, the Ruth Strauss Foundation revisit our mission to educate people about the importance of preparing for grief.

Ruth sought for every family to have a support network available, to help prepare the whole family for the death of a parent. Families can’t face this alone, communities need to be able to be ready to help, to be able to talk about death and dying so parents and children facing bereavement do not feel alone.

We know how difficult it is to know what to say to someone who has incurable cancer, let alone how hard it is to know the ‘right’ thing to say to a child or young person whose parent is dying. We want you to know here is no ‘right’ thing to say, or way to help. We often worry we might cause harm if we say the wrong thing. This really isn’t the case at all, young people especially tell us that they feel more confused and upset when adults don’t talk to them about what is happening.

Tips & Guidance

Here are some tips that might help you be there for a family you know who is facing bereavement of a parent

  • Acknowledge the elephant in the room! Say something like ‘I hear you’re going through a really difficult time right now,now; I can’t imagine what that is like’ and listen if they want to tell you about it. If you don’t know what to say, it’s ok to say that, just listen.
  • Remember, if you already know what to say you’ve stopped listening…
  • Offer practical support and don’t wait to be asked – drop off a bunch of flowers every now and again, or a bag of biscuits, a few ready-made meals for the freezer, some books, or games for the kids.
  • Send messages regularly, make sure they know you’re thinking of them and the family and say you don’t need a reply. Send a picture, a meme or forward something funny.
  • RSF Family Support Service offers emotional support and guidance to help parents with incurable cancer prepare their children for what is to come.
  • We also provide free resources on our website which you might also find helpful, you can download and order them below.
  • Offer to take the kids on a day out or on activities, help with the school run, prepare packed lunches for them a few days a week.