Child and Adolescent Bereavement Service

‘Children's reactions to bereavement are affected by many factors. These may be to do with who has died, how they died, what their relationship was with the person, how the family expresses their feelings, what other things are going on at the same time and whether their school and home community are supportive’. (Child Bereavement Network - UK)

At the Child and Adolescent Bereavement Service (CABS) at Harlington Hospice, we understand that children and young people express their emotions of grief in loss in many different ways. Often children present emotions that can seem uncharacteristic or worrying for family members. This may take the form of appearing to be coping fi

ne or having changeable behaviours such as sadness, anger, night terrors, anxiety, guilt, physical pain, or difficulties concentrating or attending school.

Bereavement may also bring up challenging experiences from the past or trigger problems that were thought to be resolved. We can support children and young people to make sense of these feelings and to have a better understanding of themselves.

We believe that unresolved grief should not inhibit children from achieving the best they can in life. We aim help the child, their family and other professionals working in their care to understand the impact of grief and how they can best support them moving forward in their lives and for a better future.

  CABS Art Therapy Room

What can you do to help your child:

Every experience of living with grief is unique, children and young people learn to cope with learning about illness or the death of someone important in their own way.

It may be helpful to consider the following when supporting the child you care for.

  • To share clear, honest and age-appropriate information
  • Reassurance that they are not to blame and that different feelings are OK
  • Try to keep normal routines and reassure by demonstrating that important adults are there for them.
  • Taking time to talk about what has happened, ask questions and create memories.
  • Being listened to and given time to share their emotions and grieve in their own way (Child Bereavement UK)

Confronting the nature of terminal illness with children can be very difficult, but in doing so it can prepare children for the death of a loved one so that it is not experienced as a sudden shock or they feel they are to blame.

For more information on how to talk to your child about a terminal illness please follow this link:

Our Team:

The Child and Adolescent Bereavement Service provide specialist bereavement therapy, which addresses the social and emotional needs of bereaved children, young people and their families/carers. Our Art Therapists are fully qualified Health and Care Profession Council (HCPC) registered professionals with a Master's Degree in Art Psychotherapy and specialist training in bereavement support.

What do we offer?

We offer support to children and young people aged 4–17 years and their families, who live in the London Borough of Hillingdon. This service is available to those who have experienced bereavement or have someone close to them with a life-limiting illness.

  • 1:1 Individual art therapy sessions
  • Groups sessions according to age group
  • Family sessions
“Thank you so much. I am now able to listen to my son’s questions and help to answer them. Before therapy, I did not know what to say about his mother. I am now open about my own feelings, whereas before I used to bottle them up, it has helped us both as we move forward in our lives”.

Bereaved father

Where do the sessions take place?

We are currently providing therapy sessions at Harlington Hospice – St Peters Way, Hayes. UB3 5AB. Protective measures have been put in place in response to Covid-19, guidance is sent before sessions start and we ask parents and young people to read through carefully before coming to the building.

Alternatively we provide therapy sessions online for young people and families who are unable to come to the hospice, for those who are isolating and for young people who may prefer this method of communication.

Telephone support is also available for parents and young people.

How can Art Therapy help?

Art Therapy uses art materials that can help express feelings of grief and loss that are often too difficult to put into words. The artwork created in the sessions often helps children and young people discuss their feelings with the art therapist. The Art Therapist provides a selection of art materials such as paints, felt tip pens, crayons and clay. Art therapy is especially helpful with reducing feelings of anxiety and isolation and making sense of painful memories and experiences. Precious memories can be captured through the art making and provide a playful and enjoyable experience also.

CABS Art Therapy Bags for online sessions – Decorate your own bag and create memories.

How to make a referral:

  • Referral form for supporting families with life limiting illnesses can be downloaded here
  • Referral form for bereavement support can be downloaded here

We accept referrals from schools, healthcare professionals, parents and carers. Young people aged 16 and over can self-refer. We respond to all referrals made within 2 working days and arrange to speak with you for a telephone assessment within 2 weeks from the date of accepting the referral.

Referrals are added to the CABS waiting list, and we aim to schedule individual, family or groups sessions within 3 months from the assessment date. We also provide advice to families, schools and professionals to support a child during this time.

If you need further information, please contact the Child and Adolescent Bereavement Service Manager at the following email address: [email protected]

For Immediate Support:

Please be aware that we are not an immediate crisis service but we can offer advice and signposting to appropriate services if you feel a child or young person’s safety is at risk or they are in need of urgent help.

Please click here for more information on bereavement and safeguarding resources.

Contact Us:

For more information call Harlington Hospice: 0208 759 0453 Or email: [email protected]