“Daddy isn’t coming back”


Warning: this News piece links to stories and content that discuss suicide and death.

During Children’s Grief Awareness Week (19th-25th November, 2021), and beyond, we are sharing some useful resources for the ex-service community, and others.


I told the children early on Saturday morning. “Daddy isn’t coming back,” I said as we lay curled into each other in bed. “He didn’t want to live any more and he made himself die.” My son turned his back to me. My daughter cried silent tears into my neck. There are no parenting handbooks for this.”

Death by suicide is also a particular risk for veterans. The following story from SSAFA explores how Mandy Small approached the charity after her husband took his own life. Mandy found the help from SSAFA invaluable for both herself, and her son, as she explains:

It was far bigger then we could have even dreamt and people were so generous. The fact that we have been able to turn the worst experience of our lives into a way of helping others makes us extremely proud. I couldn’t be prouder of Jamie, he really is a very special young man.

Many of us naturally prefer not to think about grief, or bereavement, until we must. It’s hard enough coping with the actual event, without exploring potential feelings beforehand. Depending on our experiences, we may also feel very awkward talking about grief and bereavement.

Despite this, it can help to be aware of support for your child. When a loved one dies you may so consumed by your own grief that you can’t help your child. And there are lots of helpful resources out there, and on Veterans’ Gateway.

Cruse, an Information Organisation on Veterans’ Gateway, makes the point that you are not alone, and that grief never really goes away. The charity’s many useful resources suggest tips on how you can talk to a bereaved person which include looking after yourself.

Some things to think about when talking to your child

There are additional considerations when talking with children. The following video explores some common ways that children can react to death, and gives practical help with how you might talk to your child.

For instance, one of the most important things is to use the word “died”, rather than “passed.” Find out why below…

Additionally, Covid has made it even more important to have those discussions…

The number of children bereaved during the coronavirus outbreak should be national news. But after over 20 months of dealing with the pandemic, we have become desensitised to those grieving all around us. We have stopped listening to the bereaved, particularly children and young people. These children are often trying to cope under-the-radar of those around them, unheeded and invisible. (Gail Precious, Coordinator of the Childhood Bereavement Network)

If you need more veteran-friendly advice about families and community please visit Self help . Our Veterans’ Gateway helpline team is also here for you, all year round. Do get in touch  24/7, by chat, text, email, and phone.

For urgent help and if  you are having a crisis please contact the Samaritans. They too are always available, and waiting to take your call. You are not alone.

Our COVID-19 response

During this unprecedented time, we’re still here for you 24/7.

Get in touch to find out the latest information, support and help available to you and your family.

Talk to one of our friendly advisors 24/7 on 08‍08 80‍2 12‍12.