Child Bereavement


2nd February 2018

Event type Day Conference

All Nations Centre, Cardiff

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When a child loses someone who is significant to them it can be one of the hardest and most testing times of their lives. Not just in the here and now but throughout adulthood. Bereavement can affect children and young people in different ways, and whilst grieving is a totally natural part of recovering from bereavement, this grieving process can be an individual journey. Indeed there are no standard timelines or rules about how a person should feel. Further to the difficulties faced by young people is that it is unlikely that friends would have gone through anything similar, may have difficulty empathising or understanding, and may not know what to say.

This conference will be a mixture of lectures, presentations and case studies that will cover a broad range of elements of child bereavement, taking into account the latest research on the subject. The afternoon sessions will focus on child bereavement practices, and all sessions will have the opportunity for questions to the speakers.


Prof. Ilora Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

Baroness Finlay is an Hon. Professor of Palliative Medicine at Cardiff University, President of the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy, and National Vice President of Marie Curie Care and of Hospice UK. She was the first consultant in Palliative Medicine in Wales in 1987, and has developed palliative and hospice services across Wales to establish 7 day services plus 24/7 advice available; patient evaluation through iWantGreatCare. She was on the Select Committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, and co-chairs the think-tank Living and Dying Well.

About her talk

Cicely Saunders said that “the way a person dies lives on in the memory of those left behind”.

There are many different types of death witnessed by children. All too often their reactions to grief and loss are is missed because adults around them do not know how to handle the situation, do not understand that children express grief in very different ways to adults and adults also feel at a loss as to how best to support them.

Where the death has been traumatic and witnessed by the child, the memory will be ever more vivid. There is research evidence that bad memories outlive good memories, which explains why night terrors, deeply distressed states and other manifestation of grief may emerge years after the event.

There is also evidence that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are cumulative in effect and result in poorer life outcomes for children. This means that schools, need inherent support mechanisms with staff adequately confident in supporting an individual or a group of bereaved children, as school often represents a fixed point remaining in a child’s life.

Jane Fitz, Outgoing Chair of CRUSE Cardiff and the Vale

In 2009 Professor Ilora Finlay suggested to Jane that research should be undertaken to determine the services available across the Principality for children and young people who are bereaved from the death of a significant person in their lives. The research was completed in 2010 and Jane was instrumental in devising the strategy, with the Manager of Children and Young People, (CYP) Cruse Cymru and monitored the program for the next 3 years on behalf of the Board. During that time she trained as a bereavement support worker for CYP in the Cardiff and Vale Branch and has supported a number of bereaved CYP since.

In October 2016 she took on the role of Chairman of the Branch and has recently stepped down to concentrate again on working with bereaved C&YP.

Dr Katie Koehler, C. Psychol., Child Bereavement UK

Katie joined Child Bereavement UK in January 2011 as Assistant Director of Bereavement Services. Katie is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who had been working with children and families in a Child and Adolescent Health Psychology service within the NHS for most of her career. Her current role includes overseeing national projects and facilitating training for professionals working with children and young people with additional needs.

About her talk

Katie’s presentation will cover children’s understanding of death at different ages and include the needs of bereaved children in general and those of children with additional needs, including those on the autism spectrum in particular. How schools manage a death in the school community is so important and bereaved children and young people tell us that the way their school responds at such a difficult time is something they never forget. Katie will also therefore aim to consider what schools can do to support bereaved children within their care.

Suzannah Phillips, Winston’s Wish

In 2013 Suzannah completed an MSc in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children and Young People at the Anna Freud Centre and University College London and her thesis focussed on the use of this model to help young children to elicit thoughts. For the past 4 years, Suzannah has been working at Winston’s Wish, recently moving into the role of Evidence, Partnership and Professional Development Lead. Suzannah also works with bereaved children and their families, supervises practitioners and has a particular interest in prebereavement work.

About her talk

It’s too difficult for words: Using practical interventions to support bereaved children.
Should I talk to my child about a death? Are they too young to understand? Where do I start?

These are all questions posed by parents when they first call our helpline. Often in shock and feeling overwhelmed by grief, they don’t feel well equipped to support their children.

A significant death during childhood can be one of the most fundamental losses that a child will face. With a growing evidence base for a link between childhood grief and persisting mental health problems, it’s important that children get the help that they need, at the time that they need it. Whilst much of this support can come from the social networks in the child’s life, some children may not have access to these and need further help from professionals.

With developing verbal skills, conversations with children about death can be difficult and confusing. This talk will focus on practical interventions that can aide discussions and understanding about what has happened. We will explore how these methods are used to process a death, for children aged 5 – 18 years and the importance of systemic working, where possible.


09.30 – Registration
10.00 – Welcome by ACAMH Wales Branch
10.10 – Baroness Finlay – ‘The memory lives on’
11.00 – Coffee and refreshments
11.30 – Katie Koehler, Child Bereavement UK – ‘How do children understand death?’
12.30 – Lunch
13.30 – Welcome back from Wales Branch
13.35 – Jane Fitz, Outgoing Chair of CRUSE Cardiff and the Vale – ‘Research into bereavement services for young people in Wales, 2008-2010
14.10 – Suzie Phillips, Winston’s Wish – ‘It’s too difficult for words: Using practical interventions to support bereaved children’
15.20 – Coffee and refreshments
15.40 – Panel discussion and audience questions
16.30 – Closing words and thanks from ACAMH Wales Branch


Platinum Member (formerly known as ACAMH Member) – £110.00
Gold Member – £126.00
Silver Member – £142.00
Publications/Digital (formerly known as Student/Retired) – £52.50

Non Member – £158.00

Live Stream – £29.00
Non Member Live Stream – £69.00