child bereaved by suicide

Supporting children and teens bereaved by suicide

The CEO of Feel the Magic, Adam Blatch, was recently interviewed on radio station 2BS 95.1 FM. Adam talked about supporting children and teens bereaved by suicide.

Developmental stages and ages

During the radio interview, Adam addressed the importance of considering developmental stages and ages when providing support to bereaved children. Grief is not the same for every child, nor is the support they require, following the death of a loved one.

Listen to the interview here.

As Adam outlined, the Let’s Talk Suicide programs are supported by the NSW Ministry of Health. The programs help children navigate their grief, as well as the narrative around a death by suicide.

The virtual Let’s Talk Suicide program helps children understand mental health, suicide and grief. The program includes a pre-session workshop for parents and an information pack with various tools.

A sense of community and comfort

One of the greatest benefits is that the program allows children to connect with others of similar ages in similar circumstances, providing a sense of community and comfort.

The Let’s Talk Suicide Family Day Camp aims to bring the community closer together to support one another, with activities for the whole family.

Age-appropriate programs

Programs offered by Feel the Magic are divided into three age groups for children aged 7 to 17 years of age due to differing developmental stages of growth. As Adam explained, “We help children grasp suicidal death in different ways at different ages. We ensure that they are supported as they learn and as they grow”.

First of its kind program

Feel the Magic exists to meet the complex needs of young people who are grieving the death of a loved one. The Let’s Talk Suicide program is the first of its kind in Australia, giving children the tools and strategies to help manage their grief. Feel the Magic offers tailored programs to support suicide-bereaved children and their families and to foster a supportive community.

Find out more about Feel the Magic, the various bereavement programs we offer, or register your interest here. You can also book a call with one of the team if you’d like to find out more.

Tips for Supporting Teenagers through Grief

Tips for Supporting Teenagers through Grief

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and it’s tragic that teenagers are faced with that pain. Unfortunately, 1 in 20 Australian children will experience the death of a parent before they turn 18 – many Australian teenagers will also experience the death of a sibling or guardian.

If you are the parent or guardian of a teenager who has recently lost a loved one, then you have come to the right place. You too are dealing with grief. Supporting your teenager starts with ensuring that you are properly supported, so please remember to practice self-care.

Telling a Teenager their Parent, Guardian, or Sibling has Died

Telling a teenager that someone they love has died is extremely difficult. There is no method of sharing this news that will lessen the pain of hearing it. However, there are things you can do to help support your teenage child so they can begin their grieving process in a healthy way.

  • Be prompt: Although informing a teenager of a death is difficult, it shouldn’t be delayed. The sooner they know, the sooner the healing process can begin.
  • Create a safe space: Make sure your teenager is in a place they feel comfortable in when you tell them, they need to feel able to react however they want. It’s also a good idea to have another person in the room with you if their presence will bring comfort to your teenager and to you.
  • Be straightforward: We often use euphemisms terms like “passed away” when referring to death as it can be uncomfortable to talk about it in a direct way. Euphemisms don’t soften the news, they actually make it more difficult to comprehend. Direct language helps remove the stigmas that surround death, making it easier to talk about for both you and your child.
  • Be open: Don’t hide details about the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one from your teenager, this will make them think that they can’t talk to you about the death. Rather, establish open lines of communication by answering the questions you can, being honest when you don’t know the answer, and telling them that they can always come to you if they need to talk. Be open about your own feelings as it will help your teenager become aware of and feel comfortable with their feelings.

Teenagers react differently to the news of a loved one’s death: some cry, some ask questions, and some don’t appear to have any reaction at all. This is all okay. There is no one way, or correct way, to react when being told about the death of a parent, guardian, or sibling. Throughout the conversation, reinforce that they are safe, you are safe, and you are there to help them through their grief.

For more information on how to support your teenager while informing them of the death of a loved one, download our brochure on the topic.

Supporting a Teenager Through the Grieving Process

Teenagers who have lost someone close to them experience a broad range of emotions, thoughts, physical reactions, and behaviours associated with grief after the death. These reactions aren’t confined to the days and months following the death, they will continue to appear even after years.

Teenagers may express grief differently to adults, they may slip into and out of grief, so they’ll appear to be coping some days but really struggle on others. Their expression of grief can be influenced by age, family situation, relationship with the deceased, and how expected or unexpected the death was.

The task of supporting your teenager through their grief is not easy but learning more about and understanding grief in adolescents will help you. Here are some things you need to know:

  • Understanding death: Teenagers, generally speaking, are capable of abstract thinking and can understand death in a more adult way than younger children. They know that death is universal, irreversible, and inevitable. You don’t need to shield them from the realities of death, they are able to understand it.
  • Typical feelings: Your teenager will experience a large range of emotions, including (but not limited to) fear, anger, vulnerability, sadness, shock, longing, guilt, anxiety, and/or loneliness. They are also likely to experience unexpected mood changes. Common behaviours include crying, social withdrawal, restless hyperactivity, absent-mindedness, acting out, and avoidance.
  • Physical reactions: Grief isn’t a purely emotional experience; it also causes physical reactions. In teenagers, it’s common to feel a tightness in the chest, hollowness in the stomach, dry mouth, shortness of breath, oversensitivity to noise, weakness in muscles, fatigue, appetite disturbances, and weight change. Sleep disturbances are also common, which may result in them requesting to sleep with a surviving parent or loved one for comfort, despite this seeming age inappropriate.
  • Coping mechanisms: There are a range of common coping mechanisms that teenagers often engage in, including favouring talking with adults and peers outside the family, acting with bravado as if they’re unaffected, repressing their emotions, taking on more responsibilities, or engaging in risk-taking behaviour.

To support your teenager through their grieving process, just remember that communication is key! It’s important to create a space for your teen to ask questions, discuss their feelings, and open up about their concerns. Although you may not know the answer to all their questions or what the ‘right’ thing to say is, this isn’t usually what your teenager needs – what they need is to sense that you are willing to ‘feel with them’ in this difficult period rather than jump straight into problem-solving mode.

To learn more about what to expect during the grieving process, information on how to support your teenager in the first year following a death, and how to support them through anniversaries, download our brochures on these topics.

Accessing Outside Support for a Grieving Teenager

While supporting a teenager through their grieving process, it’s important to ensure you are also supported and know that you aren’t alone. There is a community of people in Australia who understand what you are going through as they’ve experiences similar tragedy. Our mission at Feel the Magic is to ensure that families like yours are supported and have access to all the resources needed to heal.

If you want more resources to help navigate this difficult period, please explore our grief resource hub. If you’d be interested in connected your teenager and yourself to a community of people who understand you, and to mentors who can teach you about grief and give you the tools to heal, then please look into our free camps. Finally, if you need immediate mental health support for you or your teenager, please contact a helpline.

Child grief support

Supporting your child through the changes brought by death

Each year in Australia, around 1 in 20 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling prior to the age of 18*. Despite being so common, too many bereaved children are not accessing the vital child support that they need to grow into adulthood empowered with choice, opportunity, and personal resources.

Child support after death in Australia should enable bereaved children to live a life in which they realise their full potential, rather than feeling helpless, stigmatised, and isolated. The death of a loved one will alter their daily lives, however there are various ways to offer children and teens support after death to help them through these changes.

Supporting a child immediately after death

The initial step in supporting a bereaved child immediately after death is to create a safe space.

When talking to your child about the death of a loved one, it is important to be prompt, honest and straight forward. Use care and be direct, but also give your child a moment to take in your words. Be sure to provide your child with accurate, age-appropriate information, and avoid using vague messages as these will easily confuse a child when explaining death (such as “gone to sleep” or “gone away).

Your child may need you to explain what death means in simple terms. You may not have all the answers and that is okay. The key is to establish and open the lines of communication. It is crucial that you encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings in the days, weeks, and months following the loss and beyond. If your child needs you to explain death, talk in terms of the body not working anymore. It is also important that they know that death is permanent and happens to everyone at some point. You might say, “Dead means the person’s body stops working. When someone is dead it can’t be fixed, and they can’t come back.”

No matter how your child reacts to the death of a loved one, comfort them, offer them hugs, and keep them close. Some children will cry, some will ask questions, and others will seem to not react at all. Reassure them that the death of their loved one is not their fault. Reinforce that they are cared for and loved, and they are safe, and you are safe.

The death of a loved one will likely mean that your child must cope with changes in their routine. Let your child know what will happen next and be clear about any new arrangements that have been made. Visual schedules can also help younger children adjust to new routines. Discuss any mourning rituals, such as the memorial service and the funeral with your child. Explain ahead of time what will happen at these ceremonies and offer your child a role (such as reading a poem or sharing a memory). It is important to allow your child to decide whether they would like to take part in these rituals.

Adapting to life after the death of a loved one

Bereaved people, including children, often find it difficult to manage the changes in their lives following the death of a loved one. When the funeral and/or memorial service is done, and people go back to work and school, it can be a difficult time for children because understandably everything feels different. It is important to support your child to move forward and create a safe environment for them to engage in a healthy grieving process.

Create a safe space for your child to ask questions, discuss their feelings, and open up about their concerns after the death of their loved one. Maintaining continuity and your child’s normal routines at home, at school, in sports and in the community will be helpful. Engaging with daily responsibilities and pastimes is important for your child’s health and enables them to move forward in their grieving process. Creating opportunities to remember the deceased person through rituals, remembrance activities, or even making a memory box may help them process their emotions.

Supporting a child through anniversaries and holidays

Certain dates, such as the anniversary of the loss, birthdays, and holidays, may heighten children’s grief as they are reminders of their loss. It is important to normalise the fact that such dates may evoke powerful memories and feelings surrounding a loved one’s death. Even though it is difficult to anticipate how your child will feel on these dates, it is best to prepare them in case they need extra support and care.

Together with your child, they may benefit from scheduling social activities and making plans for these days as a family. Making plans is a good way to remind a bereaved child that they are not alone in their grief. Another way to support your child through difficult times is to encourage reflection, remembrance, and reminiscing. You may also want to mark this day with a new tradition, such as cooking a meal that the deceased person enjoyed, lighting a candle, or giving to a cause. Lastly, offer your child time to discuss what they are feeling and what they need from you on these significant, and often difficult dates.

Seeking support for yourself and your child

In Australia, there are a range of resources and support available for both you and your child.

  • Feel the Magic provide grief education programs and camps for children aged 7 to 17 who have experienced the death of a parent, guardian, or sibling.
  • Click here to access Feel the Magic’s Grief Resource Hub which contains information to help you through a range of challenges.
  • When someone dies, it can be hard to know who you’re supposed to tell. Click here to be directed to Services Australia.
  • Read about how to cope financially after losing your partner. If you need financial support, click here to be directed to Services Australia.
  • Talk with your doctor or local community health centre if you or your child require professional support or counselling services.
  • Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
  • Beyond Blue provides confidential counselling services.
  • Griefline provides telephone and online counselling services.
  • Headspace supports young people (12 to 25 years) who are going through a difficult time.
  • Lifeline is a 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention service.
  • Solace provides grief support for those grieving the death of their partner.
  • Postvention Australia and StandBy support people bereaved by suicide.

* 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, Sep 2010, Parental Divorce or Death During Childhood

Grieving child or adolescent

How To Help A Grieving Child Or Adolescent

The key steps in knowing how to help a grieving child or adolescent is to understand how they grieve, knowing what to expect during the grieving process, and the development of strategies to manage different grief reactions.

Children grieve differently to adults

Grief encompasses the psychological and physiological responses a person experiences after the loss of a significant person. Children and adolescents who have lost someone close to them will experience a range of feelings, thoughts, physical reactions, and behaviours associated with grief over the days, months, and years that follow the loss.

Navigating your way as a parent through your child’s grieving process is challenging, especially when you are also grieving.

Children’s expressions of grief are different to adults, and they may slip in and out of grief. They may appear to be coping some days, whilst other days they struggle greatly. Differing expressions of grief may be influenced by various factors, such as age, family situation, relation to the deceased, and how expected or unexpected the loss was to them.

As a parent, it is important to recognise and nurture your needs as you are navigating the challenge of how to help a grieving child. You will strengthen your ability to navigate both your own and your child’s challenging grief journey by prioritising self-care.

Do children and teens grasp the concept of death?

When thinking about how to help a grieving child or teen, you may have wondered how much they grasp the concept of death. Their age and developmental level have considerable influence on their understanding of death.

Typically, children between the ages of 7 and 13 struggle to develop an understanding of death as permanent. At this age, children have a limited capacity for expressing themselves through language and may express their feelings behaviorally.

Adolescents, usually between the ages of 14 to 17, are capable of abstract thinking and can conceptualise death in a more adult manner. Adolescents understand more fully that their lives will be different, and they have the capacity to understand the universality, irreversibility and inevitability of death. It is important when navigating how to help a grieving child or teen that their understanding of death based on their age and developmental level is considered.

What are the typical feelings, behaviours & physical reactions?

Recognising and understanding the typical feelings, behaviours and physical reactions that your child or teen may experience is a key step in how to help a grieving child or teem. Both children and teenagers will typically experience the following:














Social withdrawal

Restless hyperactivity

Absent-minded behavoiurs


Adolescents may feel resentment

Physical reactions

Tightness in the chest

Hollowness in the stomach

Dry mouth

Shortness of breath

Oversensitivity to noise

Weakness in muscles

Lack of energy

Appetite disturbance

Weight loss or gain

Sleep disturbances

What does your child or teen need from you?

A vital step in addressing the burning question ‘how to help a grieving child or teen’, is to provide them with a safe space that is non-judgmental and encourages emotional expression in whatever way is right for them.

Bereaved children and adolescents need you to reassure them that emotional expression is healthy. They want you to be there for them by providing them with empathy and care, but also opportunities to regain a sense of control and choice.

Reassure your child or adolescent that they will get through this difficult time, and ensure that you acknowledge their strengths and courage. It is important that you provide them with adequate support to help them heal from their grief. Feel the Magic offer free camps, programs, resources and a community of families to help children health after the death of a loved one. Click here to enquire.

Key tips for how to help a grieving child or teen:

  • Try to maintain their typical routines.
  • Provide care, reassurance and ensure they feel valued.
  • Use active listening skills.
  • Provide simple, clear, honest, and age-appropriate answers.
  • Normalise emotional expression and talking about grief.
  • Provide them with information about grief.
  • Encourage emotional expression – verbally, creatively, or physically.
  • Reassure them that it was not their fault that the person died.
  • Specifically for teens, it is crucial to set and maintain clear boundaries, offering sensitivity to their needs.
  • Provide them with an environment that offers trust and security.
  • Help them create a diary, memory box or special book to remember their loved one.
Darren McMullen Feel the Magic Ambassador

Ambassador and celebrity boardroom challenger

If you’ve been following us on socials, you would have seen our newest Ambassador Darren McMullen challenging it out on Celebrity Apprentice Australia. Darren is not only a proud Ambassador but selected Feel the Magic has his charity of choice for the battle in the boardroom.

As a proud mental health advocate, Darren noticed the link between mental health issues, suicide, and grief.

Darren shared: “I’ve lost friends through suicide and mental health issues. And when I looked back, I realised – a lot of these friends had lost a parent when they were young.”

That’s why he’s so passionate about Feel the Magic and our programs. He believes that through early intervention and grief education, we can help kids and families learn to live with their grief in healthy ways and avoid serious mental health issues later on in life.

That’s why he has been playing the boardroom game in Celebrity Apprentice, and he’s doing just fine!

Record breaking win

On the very first premiere episode for this season, Darren, Benji Marshall (thank you for your huge contribution, Benji), and teammates not only won the opening challenge, but raised the most amount money ever on Celebrity Apprentice. This was an amazing and massive effort and will help so many more grieving children and their families. This win means Feel the Magic can offer them more free camps, resources, and support.

Giving back and second chances

Darren generously gave Turia Pitt back her hard-earned winnings on episode two. From Feel the Magic CEO Adam Blatch “We are so proud to have Darren McMullen as Ambassador at Feel the Magic. The generosity in not accepting Turia Pitt winnings for her charity Interplast Australia & New Zealand on Celebrity Apprentice Australia reflects the values that Feel the Magic holds. The amazing contribution by Darren and his team will support many more grieving children and families around Australia. Darren is helping us get the word out about the 1 in 20 Australian kids grieving the death of a parent and the support we can offer them. We are very grateful for all his time and energy”.

Then on episode eight, Darren had a second chance at the winnings as Project Manager. But he and Team Innovate were unlucky to be outdone by their opponents.

Above all these efforts, Darren has been proudly promoting Feel the Magic – on television, social media, and radio – even during a Nova 969 rap battle against Wippa. Our Instagram polling tells us that Darren out did Wippa hands down!

Darren has half the season to go, and we can’t wait to watch the battles ahead.

Celebrity Apprentice style golf day

Outside of the boardroom, Darren and Benji will be joining Feel the Magic for this year’s annual charity golf day at Concord Golf course.

Would you like to play a round of golf, meet our Ambassador, raise money, and help more grieving kids heal? Then come along and experience a Celebrity Apprentice style Golf Day.

Play as a team, buy individual player tickets, or bring along extra guests to a fantastic lunch. Click through for more information.

We can’t thank Darren enough for all his efforts, commitment, and shout outs. The more we can spread the word about Feel the Magic, the more grieving kids we can help heal.  No Australian child should feel alone in their grief.

First of a kind Let's Talk Suicide

Mental Health Minister backs ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camp

First of a kind ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camps

Thanks to vital support from the NSW Government and Minister for Mental Health, Regional Health and Women, Bronnie Taylor, Feel the Magic can help more children grieving the suicide of their parent or sibling.

Let’s Talk Suicide camps, a first of their kind in Australia, are offered to kids aged seven to 17 who are grieving the suicide of a loved one.

The Feel the Magic ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camps, a first of their kind in Australia, are offered to kids aged seven to 17 who are grieving the suicide of a loved one. These camps give grieving kids the mental tools and coping skills to help manage their grief, as well as a community to lean on.

Supporting children and families affected by suicide

Feel the Magic Chief Executive Officer, Adam Blatch said “Sadly, suicide claims the life of many parents every year, leaving behind heartbroken and devastated partners, children, and grandparents. The Let’s Talk Suicide program provide a safe space for children to learn new skills to manage their grief and talk through their pain and loneliness with people who truly understand. It is also a vital support to parents and carers who must juggle their own grief.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 49 years old in Australia (Australian Government, Department of Health), with many of these instances resulting in a child having to mourn the loss of a parent or sibling.  Read more about the prevalence of childhood bereavement here.

With the support of the NSW Government, Feel the Magic can offer this critical Let’s Talk Suicide program to more grieving children.

The suicide bereavement program is funded by the NSW Government and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor encourages affected parents and carers to enrol their children and teens. “I cannot imagine the enormous, heart-breaking task of explaining to your child why a parent or sibling felt their only option was to take their own life,” Minister Taylor said. “We want these parents and carers to know that they are not alone and there is a community of people who understand their pain and grief and will support them as they work through it as a family.”

An impactful collaboration

Let’s Talk Suicide has been created as a collaboration to ensure that the program is as impactful as possible. Partners include the NSW Ministry of Health who support this program as part of their ‘Towards Zero Suicides’ initiative, The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Roses in the Ocean, and the University of Melbourne.

First in-person ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ camp

Initially a virtual Zoom-based program, the first in-person ‘Let’s Talk Suicide’ (LTS) camp took place at Stanwell Tops on the 15 May for children aged seven to 17 years of age. “Now with in-person camps, kids can build a connection with others facing grief and experience the benefits of the program, face to face.” Said Mr Blatch.

Helping children deal with loss

Created specifically for kids who are grieving the suicide of a loved one, LTS teaches bereaved children how to heal from the guilt, shame and blame that often comes with suicidal grief.

The program is developed in collaboration with clinical psychologists, the NSW Ministry of Health, leading suicide support organisations, and those with a lived experience.

At the LTS camps, kids will learn the skills, tools, and coping mechanisms to help them deal with grief, even when they’re in triggering situations. They have a safe place to explore their grief and heal, with other children who can relate to them like no one else.

Find out more here, register your interest, or contact 1300 602 465.

Crisis support

Please note we do not offer crisis services. If you require urgent assistance, to ensure your safety, please go to your nearest hospital’s accident and emergency department or if you’re in need of immediate emotional support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Grief Line on 1300 845 745. Please take care.