This is a preview of the foreword of Lost for Words, a new book created by the Life Matters task force – a coalition calling for better support for bereaved families – to mark Children’s Grief Awareness Week 2019. The book is made up of advice and insights by children across the UK, bereaved from infancy to teenage years. Each hopeful page is designed to be screen-grabbed and shared on social media to help others in need. Download it for free below.

My son, Jackson, was just two years old when his mum died. I remember having absolutely no idea how to explain things to him and I was 33 at the time; I was the grown-up and even I was lost for words. How lost he must have felt when he could still barely talk.

What I’ve learned since is that some people think that children don’t suffer as much as adults when someone dies. Anyone who has experienced the death of someone they love as a child, however, will understand that this simply isn’t true. It’s more likely that we just can’t find the words to express ourselves or that we don’t always feel safe enough to say them.

Children’s Grief Awareness Week is all about helping people understand what bereavement is like for the younger generation and learning more about how we can help. We all find ourselves lost for words when someone dies. And that’s why we have asked children who have been there – who are perhaps still there – to give us the words we need.

This e-book is the first of its kind: a collection of personal insights and advice for bereaved children by bereaved children. Lost words now found through the passage of time and with the benefit of experience.

This project also acknowledges how communication has changed. A generation ago, things were often worse. Many children never had the chance to speak out. A loved one would die, and they were never spoken of again. These days there are so many opportunities and new ways to express ourselves. When we are at a loss for what to say, we can now share our feelings online and in social media through pictures and emojis.

I remember before my son could really articulate how he felt through words, he would often send me emoji messages from his grandparents’ phones. I realised that, even then, he was trying to share his feelings with me. And that’s why all the advice is this book is accompanied by emojis chosen by the contributors themselves. This year we celebrate and encourage expressions of grief and hope in any form.

Seven years on since his mother’s death, Jackson is now nine. He still communicates through emojis but he has now also found his own words, which he would like to offer as his own mini collection of advice to other bereaved children.

Think about the person you love 🙇🏾‍♂️

Do stuff for them even though they have gone, like making a cake for their birthday 🎂

Keep pictures of them on your wall 🖼

Write stories about them sometimes 🖌

Talk about them often 🗣

Have a memory bear made out of something the person you love used to wear. It’s a nice way to keep them close to you 🧸

Meet other children who have lost someone they love 👫

And please share #LostForWords with anyone you think it might help 🙋🏾‍♂️

With ❤️ from Benjamin & Jackson Brooks-Dutton.

Download Lost for Words