In the wake of the terror attack in Manchester which was even more horrifying as it seemed to target children, many parents are left lost as to what to say to their kids and how to say it. Parents left with a strong emotional reaction themselves, are having to do an emotional juggling act between the strong natural urge to protect their children and the need to not let the terrorists win. At Grief Recovery we know that the definition of grief sums this up: "Grief is the conflicting feelings following a change or end in a familiar pattern of behaviour." So having acknoweldged that what you and your kids is experiencing is grief here are some practical tips to help you address this. 
1) Remember everyone and every experience is unique so there is no magic set of words that are appropriate for everybody. 
 
2) Kids are people too. The guidelines are the same no matter what age of person you are talking to. The only thing that changes is age appropriate language. 
 
3) It is important to acknowledge that sad, anxious, painful feelings are real and are the completely normal and natural response to loss of any kind. In these circumstances, there may be a range of losses including loss of sense of safety. This means that when your child expresses their fears or anxieties it is important allow them to fully express those fears uninterrupted rather than cutting them off in your rush to help them feel better. When they  
This week Grief Recovery Specialist and Trainer Phyl Edmonds is speaking at the Mental Health Forward Thinking Implementation Plan Conference in Manchester. This five-year major transformation programme for mental health sets out how services will help reach a million more people a year by 2022. 
The plan commits to improving access to high-quality care, 
This week I’m exhibiting at the National Conference in Pregnancy and Infant Loss, designed for professional services to collaborate, to ensure high levels of bereavement care. From working with experienced professionals, as well as bereaved parents, it’s clear that pregnancy and infant loss is still very much a taboo subject. 
 
At the frontline of parental grief, how can professional services be best equipped to support parents who have lost an infant? Currently mothers get very little support, and fathers are more often than not completely forgotten. 
 
In my experience many parents who have suffered the loss of a child don’t feel able to move beyond initial grief. The idea that you’ll “never get over” the death of a child is a common piece of misinformation, potentially leading to parents seeking out information and emotions to match. In addition, couples can become angry with each other, as inevitably we all grieve in our individual ways, and one might “be strong” to support the other but then be perceived to “not loved our baby like I did”. By providing initial support to parents and equipping them in early in their grief, professional services could have a positive effect on the long-term recovery from grief. 
 
The Grief Recovery Method was created when John James lost his three-day-old baby. While a lot has improved since then, there is still a long way to go to get the recognition for the emotional pain of any infant loss, no matter the age or gestation. 
 
The reason we will be exhibiting at the conference is to introduce professional services - midwives, ambulance services, funeral directors, police officers, and anyone else who comes into contact with these parents in the short- and long term - to the Grief Recovery Method Certification Training that we provide. We give staff and volunteers the tools to help clients appropriately, and already work with a number of organisations. The training covers a mix of classroom training, practical experience, learning materials and ongoing individual support. 
 
A question we often get asked is “should I take my young child to a funeral?” At Grief Recovery, we believe that all feelings are normal and natural including sad or painful ones so it would be easy to say “yes of course”. The real question is whether your child is old enough to hang around relatively quietly while the adults do what they must do. If they can do that then yes, they should go. 
Crucially before that happens the child needs to know what to expect and what your expectations are of them so you’ll need to do some explaining before the event: 
 
It doesn’t matter what angle you come at this topic – the question “why?” is there. To those left behind when someone has completed suicide “why?” is the burning, spear of agony that destroys sleep, destroys relationships and often destroys lives. 
More than 6000 people a year end their own lives in the UK and that figure is growing. Why? 
Every 4 minutes in the UK someone attempts suicide – once every 90 minutes someone succeeds. 
These figures are shocking and bewildering to most who read about them, and a nightmare for those directly affected so who or what is responsible? 
The answers inevitably are complex and varied and it is too easy for those of us not on the frontline to think it’s tragic but there’s nothing I can do. Wrong. There are things we can all do: 
There aren't very many days when a thought about Kevin doesn't cross my mind. It’s not really surprising that there are still so many associations that trigger these, after all, we were together for most of my adult life. Familiar objects, tunes, posts from his family on Facebook, even certain foods will trigger fond memories or more rarely a remembered aggravation. The thoughts are not painful they are merely there. A fact of life after a death.Each year it is different, because each year I am different but I still notice the anniversaries – of the day we got married, of his birthday and of his death. 
Father’s day isn’t something I’ve given much thought to for many years – my Dad always forgot about it, he really didn’t see the point so quite often we didn’t bother. Somehow this year it’s different, so I’ve been pondering why. 
 
Timing is all – we’ve just had our first wedding anniversary – marking an event that Dad wasn’t around for because he sadly passed away quite some years ago which meant that he wasn’t there to give me away. In the run up to the wedding I’d noticed that I was thinking about Dad a lot and it took me a while to work out why I was suddenly missing him so much more than I had been. Then I realised. This was my first wedding without Dad there to give me away. 
 
Fred Hewson, father of Carole Henderson and subject of the blog
Yesterday I popped into the supermarket to get a few essentials and there it was – the massive display of flowers, pot plants & baskets and so on reminding shoppers “Not to forget Mum on Mother’s day.” I was hardly going to forget! Today is the first Mothering Sunday since Mum died last Spring so I’ve probably never been more aware that this weekend is the traditional time to say “thank you”. 
 
My Mum was a very pragmatic woman who didn’t expect to be taken out to lunch on this day “it will be too busy, expensive and service will probably be slow – better to go on a different day” she did have some expectations though – a bunch of daffs and a card and she was happy. 
All grief is unique. It’s something we say a lot around here. It seems obvious at one level, after all every relationship is unique. The statement sounds true when we hear it because no matter what our life experience is, by the time we are adults we have all experienced loss of various kinds. Even if we've never given it much conscious thought we know that we experience loss differently each time. There may well be common features of course. Reduced ability to concentrate or the urge to eat a bar of chocolate the size of Belgium, but no matter how hard some theorists try and push our messy human emotions into little boxes or “stages” it doesn't work. Grief IS unique. 
 
I don’t tend to have the radio on during the day. Some people find it helps them work, for me I get too easily distracted but at the moment there’s a radio on in the kitchen to help the guy building my new cupboards work and one tuned to a different station that the builder working outside has to help him through his day. 
 
This afternoon I experienced a bigger loss than my concentration. The news came over on the kitchen radio that Rik Mayall has died and there were audible reactions from all of us. The classics all made an appearance – disbelief, shock and immediate exclamations of “but he was our sort of age wasn’t he!”