Check out the courses we offer
Knowledge Base » Mental Health » Case Study: Stories of Resilience and Recovery After Child Bereavement

Case Study: Stories of Resilience and Recovery After Child Bereavement

Bereavement at any age is incredibly difficult. However, losing a loved one during childhood is a profound challenge. This ordeal can reverberate through families and leave lasting emotional scars. The impact of such loss on children and their families is multifaceted. It ranges from emotional upheaval to significant adjustments in daily routines. While grief is an entirely natural response to loss, going through it, especially for children, has unique difficulties. However, amidst the depths of grief, there is hope, and sharing narratives of resilience and recovery can help the newly bereaved navigate their grief. 

Since 46,300 children in the UK experience the bereavement of a parent each year, it’s important to acknowledge that this is something dealt with frequently—the equivalent of one parent lost every 20 minutes. However, it’s not just parents children lose, but siblings, grandparents and others too. 

In this guide, we aim to present stories of resilience and recovery after child bereavement to serve as hope to others that things do get better, even if they are never the same.

Child Bereavement Case Studies

Our case studies present Maya, Ali and Javier—individuals whose backgrounds, experiences and coping mechanisms span a rich spectrum of diversity. Through their stories, we gain insights into the complexities of grief, and we also witness the human spirit’s resilience and recovery.

Resillience after child bereavement

Case Study 1: Maya’s journey through loss and rediscovery

Maya, an 8-year-old girl from a close-knit family in a suburban neighbourhood, experienced the sudden loss of her father due to a car accident. At her young age, Maya was undoubtedly devastated by the sudden absence of her father and struggled to comprehend the enormity of her loss. However, with the unwavering support of her family and guidance from a grief counsellor, Maya began to work through her grief and discover how to get through life without her father. 

Despite her young age, Maya displayed remarkable resilience, as many young people do. In her case, she found solace in expressing her emotions through art. She worked through her feelings with a trained art therapist in dedicated sessions for bereaved children. She would often spend hours painting and drawing scenes that evoked memories of her father. Through this creative outlet, Maya found a way to process her grief and honour her father’s memory.

As Maya progressed through her grief journey, she discovered a newfound sense of purpose. Inspired by the compassionate care she received during her own grieving process, Maya expressed a desire to help other children experiencing similar loss. Two years after losing her father and with the encouragement of her family, Maya volunteered at a local support group for bereaved children. She offered empathy and understanding to those in need.

Through her journey of loss and rediscovery, Maya not only found healing but also discovered a way to use her grief to help others. There is no “getting over” the loss of a parent, but Maya has managed to channel her grief into something positive.

Case Study 2: Ali’s struggle with loss and identity

Twelve-year-old Ali experienced the death of his grandmother. Ali’s grandmother played a central role in his upbringing and lived with him and his parents. The loss of his grandmother left Ali grappling with feelings of sorrow and confusion, and, unlike Maya, he also had to struggle through his cultural differences surrounding death and mourning from his family’s homeland.

Ali struggled to reconcile his grief with his cultural identity; he found himself experiencing a complex web of emotions. Despite the cultural expectations to maintain stoicism, Ali bravely sought support from his family and school counsellor. Through open dialogue and shared rituals of remembrance, Ali found comfort in honouring his grandmother’s legacy. This helped him acknowledge his own emotional journey too. 

As Ali went through the grieving process, he discovered the power of storytelling as a means of healing. His grandmother had always told him stories about her life as a child. As Ali had grown up in the UK, his experience of life was completely different to his grandmother’s. Ali decided to write down his grandmother’s stories that she’d told him so frequently throughout her life. And, through writing and sharing these stories and anecdotes about his grandmother, Ali found catharsis. It also helped him to develop a renewed sense of connection to his cultural roots. Ali’s stories helped him preserve the memory of his grandmother while also providing him with something productive to do. Later, these stories became a source of comfort and inspiration to his family.

Through his struggle with loss, Ali emerged with a deeper understanding of himself and his cultural heritage.

Case Study 3: Javier’s path to healing through nature

Javier, a 10-year-old boy from an urban community, experienced the loss of his beloved pet dog, Luna, who had been his constant companion since childhood. Losing Luna was Javier’s first experience of grief and bereavement. He had spent every day of his waking life with Luna as a member of his family. When she died, he was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and loneliness. What made this more difficult for Javier was that other people didn’t understand his feelings. His friends at school who didn’t have a beloved pet didn’t understand his profound grief. Thankfully, Javier found solace in the natural world surrounding his neighbourhood.

Javier had walked Luna in his local park with his parents every day. And so, in his grief, he turned to this place as a source of comfort. Javier embarked on daily walks through the local park, immersing himself in the sights and sounds of the outdoors. Although he missed Luna terribly, he managed to enjoy sharing stories about her frequent bouts of mischief in that very space. In the tranquillity of nature, Javier found a way to process his grief and reflect on the cherished memories he shared with Luna.

Javier sought to channel his grief into a positive outlet. With the support of his family, Javier decided to volunteer at a community garden within the park. He helped cultivate plants and tended to the earth. By connecting with nature and nurturing new life, Javier found healing and a renewed sense of purpose.

The park grounds were immensely helpful to Javier as he went through the grieving process. He learnt the restorative power of nature and found moments of beauty and tranquillity amidst his sorrow. 

Recovery after child bereavement

Factors Contributing to Recovery

Throughout the journeys of Maya, Ali and Javier, several common themes and factors emerge as crucial contributors to their resilience and recovery in the aftermath of loss. These factors encompass a wide array of influences, ranging from the support of loved ones to the implementation of coping strategies and engagement in therapeutic interventions. Understanding these key elements sheds light on the multifaceted nature of healing and offers valuable insights into effective approaches to navigating grief. It’s also important to realise that children may never fully recover from their loss, especially if it is one so profound as the loss of a parent or sibling. They will, however, learn how to cope and enjoy life again.

Social support

Central to the grieving process for all three individuals is the presence of robust social support networks. Maya found solace in the support of her family and the guidance of a grief counsellor, while Ali sought comfort in open dialogue with his family and the empathetic ear of his school counsellor. Javier, too, benefited from the companionship of his family and the sense of belonging, fostered through his involvement in community activities. 

The presence of understanding and compassionate individuals provides a crucial foundation upon which to navigate the complexities of grief, offering validation, empathy and a sense of belonging that are instrumental in the healing process.

Coping strategies

Everyone has their own coping mechanism as they navigate their grief journey. Like Maya, many children find art therapy useful, being able to channel emotions through art and use painting and drawing as a means of self-expression and to process their feelings. 

Others, like Ali, find catharsis in writing things down. Whether recounting anecdotes and preserving memories through written narratives, or writing a diary, writing is cathartic and helps people explore their emotions privately, or publicly if they wish to share. 

Nature is a natural mood elevator so it’s no surprise that Javier found solace in nature, immersing himself in the tranquillity of the outdoors and engaging in activities such as gardening to nurture new life. 

These coping strategies serve as constructive outlets for emotional expression and provide a sense of agency and control amidst the chaos of grief.

Therapeutic interventions

Professional therapeutic interventions are often needed for children dealing with grief. Children are unable to understand and appreciate the enormity of death in the same way that adults do. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t feel the loss immensely. Guidance from a grief counsellor or school counsellor can help children develop techniques to understand and cope with their overwhelming emotions. 

Other therapies like art therapy, animal therapy, equine therapy and music therapy are all useful too. These therapeutic interventions offer valuable resources and support and provide children with opportunities to reflect on their experiences and deal with their grief.

Self-care practices

As well as external support and professional interventions, self-care practices play a vital role in promoting resilience and well-being. The children in our case studies each found a form of self-care that nurtured their physical, emotional or spiritual well-being. Whether through engaging in creative pursuits, spending time in nature or practising mindfulness and relaxation techniques, it’s important to prioritise activities that replenish energy reserves and foster a sense of inner peace and balance. By prioritising self-care, it is possible to build resilience from within and equip oneself with the strength and resilience needed to navigate the challenges of grief.

Lessons Learned and Words of Wisdom

As we reflect on the poignant journeys of Maya, Ali and Javier, several key lessons emerge. These offer valuable insights that resonate deeply with the human spirit.

  • Embracing hope:
  • Despite the depths of sorrow and despair that accompany grief, Maya, Ali and Javier each embody the transformative power of hope. They remind us that even in the darkest of times, there is hope and things do get better. Maya’s resilience in the face of loss, Ali’s determination to preserve his grandmother’s memory and Javier’s connection to the natural world all serve as testaments to the enduring strength of hope as a catalyst for transformation.
  • Perseverance in the face of adversity:
  • The journeys of Maya, Ali and Javier are marked by resilience, perseverance and unwavering determination in the face of adversity. Despite encountering profound loss and navigating complex emotions, they demonstrate remarkable resilience. Their stories remind us that we are born with the resilience, inner strength and courage to navigate life’s most challenging moments.
  • Finding meaning and purpose:
  • Maya, Ali and Javier each found meaning and purpose amidst their grief. They discovered avenues for growth, renewal and connection. Whether through creative expression, cultural traditions or engagement with nature, they demonstrated the importance of finding meaning in life again.

Support Resources and Further Reading

For individuals and families in the UK coping with the profound impact of child bereavement, there are numerous support resources and organisations available to provide assistance and guidance during this challenging time. Whether seeking professional counselling, peer support or simply a listening ear, these resources offer valuable support and reassurance to those navigating the complexities of grief.

  • Child Bereavement UK: Child Bereavement UK offers support for families facing the loss of a child or young person, providing a range of services including bereavement support groups, counselling, and online resources. Visit their website for more information:
  • Winston’s Wish: Winston’s Wish is a leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK, offering practical support and guidance to children, young people and families grieving the death of a loved one. Their website provides a wealth of resources, including information on coping strategies, bereavement support services, and educational materials:
  • Cruse Bereavement Care: Cruse Bereavement Care offers free confidential support, advice and information for individuals and families affected by bereavement. Their trained volunteers and counsellors provide a range of services, including one-to-one support, group support, and bereavement counselling. Visit their website to access their support services:


  • Child Bereavement UK Helpline: Call 0800 02 888 40 for support and guidance from trained bereavement professionals. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care Helpline: Call 0808 808 1677 to speak to a trained volunteer who can offer support and information. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 5 pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings until 8 pm.
Child bereavement case study

Further reading:

  • Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving by Julia Samuel: This book offers insights into the experience of grief and provides practical guidance on navigating the grieving process.
  • The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide by Helen Fitzgerald: Written specifically for parents and caregivers, this book explores how children grieve and offers strategies for supporting them through the grieving process.
  • The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents by Alexander Levy: This book examines the unique challenges faced by adults who have lost their parents and offers guidance on navigating the complexities of grief and change.
Child Bereavement

Child Bereavement

Just £20

Study online and gain a full CPD certificate posted out to you the very next working day.

Take a look at this course

About the author

Avatar photo

Louise Woffindin

Louise is a writer and translator from Sheffield. Before turning to writing, she worked as a secondary school language teacher. Outside of work, she is a keen runner and also enjoys reading and walking her dog Chaos.

Similar posts