Grieving after a sudden death

The circumstances of a death affects the way you and your family may grieve:

  • Was the death sudden or accidental?
  • Did death come after a long illness?
  • Did your loved one take their own life?
  • Was the death due to murder?
  • Was the death due to AIDS?
  • Was someone killed by a drunken driver?

We support families whatever the circumstances of the death, and know that a cause of death can make a great difference to how children and young people grieve and how it feels for surviving parents or main carers. A sudden death gives no time for preparation or time to say goodbye. It can be really difficult if the last conversation with the person who has died was an argument, and there is often an overwhelming sense of words unsaid or that someone has died without really knowing how important they were to those left behind. Younger children may feel they are in some way responsible for the death - this ‘magical thinking’ can lead them to say things like "Daddy was cross with me at breakfast and that is why he had a car crash."

"We began the day as we always did - dad going off to work, kids off to school. I took it for granted that life would just go on like this. But when the kids came home I had to tell them their dad had died in a road accident it’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do."