Child bereavement: 'The pain of my mum dying doesn't go away'

Phoebe now twenty years old Image copyright Phoebe
Image caption Phoebe wants schools to offer more support to children who lose a loved one

"I was made to sit in a Mother's Day assembly the first year after she died.

"Everyone was turning around like 'You okay, you okay?' and you just want to crawl up into a ball and go home."

Phoebe was nine years old when she lost her mum and it made her "an angry individual" at times.

She says some schools can fail to recognise that a child's grieving process can change as they grow older.

"I needed one significant person to just be there and to remember the anniversary and to remember mum's birthday.

"I needed someone to just on that day check-in on me and just make sure I was okay."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Phoebe was nine when her mum died

Phoebe, now 20, says not everyone understood why she was still grieving years after her mum died - and that included people her own age.

"A lot of friends who were close to me couldn't understand why the sixth year was harder than the fourth year after we lost her.

"You've got people that just think you're a sad teenager but you're actually trying to deal with being a teenager, the loss, and the envy that you feel for people who have their mum.

"When you lose such a significant person in your life you suddenly lose the life you had before.

"The pain doesn't go away and it doesn't get easier but you make space for it."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Phoebe says the pain of losing her mum "doesn't go away"

Because of her experiences, she wants other bereaved children to get better support while they're in education.

"I just hope teachers want to make that change and I believe that they do. But I feel that our culture makes us awkward about death.

"There is an uncomfortable feeling around death and we need to get past that in our culture.

"Because then we just lead to ignoring it. We always said that it was better to say something than say nothing at all."

Child bereavement charity Winston's Wish says Phoebe's experience isn't unusual.

In a new report it says children are being "let down" in schools and support is "patchy or non-existent" so it wants to see a bereavement plan in every school.

The Department for Education told Newsbeat: "Mental Health and Behaviour guidance for schools includes links to sources of information and support, including on bereavement and other traumatic events."

Ministers also claim there is an NHS plan to bring in more mental health support for schools over the next five years.

If you've been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, you can find help at the BBC Advice pages.

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