Child bereavement: how to help your child cope with grief

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Lianna Champ, Owner Manager of Clear Cremation and Champ Funeral Services, draws on 40 years of experience in grief counselling to relay tips and advice on helping your child understand death and cope with the loss of a loved one from a recently written article published on


When someone significant in the life of a child dies, their view of the world and sense of security becomes threatened, and all that is familiar suddenly changes. It’s important to help support children through loss, by encouraging them to deal with it comfortably, confidently and in a healthy way. But how do we do this? And how do we teach them to remain true to themselves and grieve authentically, naturally and instinctively, in the way that is right for them.


The importance of honesty

Sometimes, in an attempt to protect children from the reality of death, we distort the facts of life and death to soften the truth, particularly for younger children. But by doing this, we can inadvertently create a mystery around death, which forces children to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. This only adds further confusion to their sadness. So when someone they love or someone important to them has died, it’s vital that we are honest.

We often don’t give our children enough credit for their capacity to understand, but in reality, children understand death from a young age – they see dead flies on a windowsill or little dead animals in the garden, and their heroes even die in cartoons.

As parents, it’s absolutely natural for us to want to shield them from exposure to the awful things that happen, but they do happen and are often out of our control. Life is not an endless series of happy moments; instead, it is always interspersed with traumas. When we’re happy, we show it through our laughter. When we’re sad, we show it through our tears. Both emotions need honest and equal expression. By accepting and experiencing all life events as they occur, we can live fully and meaningfully, as long as we can process the emotional events practically as they arise, deal with them, and then move on.

How to explain death to children

When a death occurs, create a safe space where you can share your feelings about it. Children learn their coping mechanisms form the adults around them. You lead – go first and be honest about how the loss has made you feel.

Use straightforward language to explain what has happened. By using simple language to explain what ‘dead’ means, we are teaching children a truth: that all life at some stage comes to an end; that people can die when they are old, or if their bodies stop working properly through illness, or if there has been an accident.

In the case of a suicide, it’s all right to admit that we don’t always know why someone has died, and we have to be honest about that too. When you have finished speaking, allow your child time to think: there is much learning to be had in silence.

To help your child understand and come to terms with the death of a loved one, try these tips:

✔️ Let your child take their time – don’t grab them in a big hug, to try to soften the blow.

✔️ Don’t just carry on speaking for the sake of it, or because you aren’t sure how to help your child.

✔️ When they start to speak, try not to interrupt.

✔️ Be accepting in your words and in your actions. There is no right or wrong way to react when we receive the news of a death. Our reactions are as unique to us as our own fingerprint.

✔️ Try not to offer an opinion, but do feedback words to show you have understood and don’t interrupt their flow.

✔️ Do not analyse what they are feeling and don’t compare how you feel. Comparisons minimise the importance of their feelings and if they don’t match yours, this can affect their self-esteem and confidence, creating imaginary failings where there are none.

Understanding grief

It’s a fact that grief does make us feel different. Just as they would try on a new pair of trainers to see how they fit, children need to give their feelings verbal expression, in order to connect fully with what is going on inside them. Speaking their words out loud can help unravel emotional confusion and can help make sense of what is going on in their heads. Verbalising emotional pain is a powerful release and does not require any comment from others, apart from acknowledgement and acceptance.

All children, no matter what age, must be able to talk and share unconditionally. When we speak about how we are feeling, we aren’t having a conversation, we are making a statement.We can teach our children that it’s OK to cry when we are sad and that it is OK to be scared.

We can teach our children that it’s OK to cry when we are sad; to share our tears together; that it is OK to be scared. Allowing children to express their own reactions without comparisons will give them emotional confidence and will create well-balanced adults.

Where possible, continue to do things and activities, as this can help keep some structure and familiarity of routine.

Younger children and grief

The reactions of young children can be unpredictable and challenging behaviour can result. Young children do not have the vocabulary of adults, and cannot access the same stress outlets, which can create an inner explosion of emotion.

• Be honest in your language

Grief can manifest physically in both children and adults. Children may become clingy, wet the bed or want to sleep with the lights on. They may be terrified of falling asleep following a death, frightened that they or those they love won’t wake up, because they may have been told that the person who has died has ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘fallen asleep’. This is why it’s so important to be completely honest in your language – no euphemisms.

• Give love and reassurance

All these physical changes are quite natural, as they try to find an anchor in the new chaos of their lives. This is their way of trying to process what has happened and they need time to balance. Give lots of love and reassurance. Explain in simple words that what they are experiencing is OK. Above all, do not draw attention to their reactions or make them feel that there is something wrong with them.

• Answer questions honestly

Be ready to answer their questions at all times. Young children have short attention spans and may ask the same questions over and over again. Always be patient with them and answer with honesty. It’s normal for children to feel anger, fear and confusion, because they don’t understand or can’t accept that they can’t see the person who has died any more. They need to know that whatever words they use will be acceptable.

• Create a scrapbook

Sometimes, young children don’t understand that death is permanent, so creating a scrapbook gives the opportunity to say, ‘We can’t see them because she/he has died, but we can look at their photographs and see them in this way.’ Children can process information far more practically than adults if they are given the truth.

• Don’t distract them with treats

When they have an emotional meltdown, don’t try to stop their tears. Just be there with your love and offer hugs if they want one. Don’t try to distract them from their sadness by offering them sweets or chocolate in an attempt to make them feel better. This can send mixed messages, suggesting that feeling sad is wrong and should be stopped, rather than accepting and working through the emotion. Offering sweets or chocolate can inadvertently drive them to soothe themselves with food or some other substance, which can manifest in later years as comfort eating.

Teenagers and grief

Teenagers will be dealing with hormones and greater academic demands. They are in a place where need conflicts with independence. Teens can often feel misunderstood – desperately wanting to be seen as grown-up, yet still needing the security of curling up in their parent’s lap.

They may withdraw, struggling to manage the overwhelming and confusing feelings of sadness and grief following the death. Anger triggered by fear and sadness can result, changing their behaviour. This can have a knock-on effect at school, which can then create further pressures.

• Maintain a consistent routine

To help support them, try to keep routines the same, where possible. Creating support with the other adults in the teen’s life can also help to provide a cushion.

• Keep a look-out for signs of stress

It’s natural for children at any age to feel frightened following a death. They may withdraw
and attempt to carry on as normal, not sure of how they should react. Always watch for any signs of stress. Try not to tell them how they should be feeling and don’t force them to talk. They will do so when they are ready. Explain there is no set path of emotional expression following loss. Take the lead and share your feelings openly and with honesty – this will show them it’s OK to recognise when we feel sad, confused and out of sorts.

• Be ready to offer extra support

Teens will often talk to their friends about how they are feeling. Extra awareness and support is necessary if you can see they have withdrawn from their friends and usual activities. If they are able to talk about how they feel, then together you can explore their reactions. Negative and harmful behaviour needs to be explained and understood.

• Help them make informed choices

Telling a teenager not to do something can make them do it more. Gently exploring their behaviour gives them the opportunity to make an informed choice, without the feeling of being judged. Allow them to express their feelings in their own words. Teenagers are still learning and trying to find their feet when in the company of adults. As an adult, sharing your tears, fears and words can set a positive example, but don’t walk on eggshells – if something is unacceptable, you must explain why.

• Encourage them to write a journal

Writing their feelings down can be cathartic if they’re struggling to talk. A sealed letter containing photos or personal mementos placed in the coffin can be a very positive action. Also, writing a journal is a great way of continuing the emotional relationship we still have with someone who has died.

Should children attend funerals?

Children are involved in all the other rituals we have in life – christenings, birthdays and anniversaries. So there is no purpose served in shielding them from a funeral, and we should not be afraid to involve children. We must also remember that funerals today are not the grim and sombre occasions of the past; in fact, they are very much a life story celebration of remembrance.

The opportunity to be involved in the farewell process can be an important learning and healing experience. Experiencing loss events together brings us closer to the people in our lives and is part of the cycle of life. Involving them in the funeral arrangements can help prepare children and teenagers for the funeral itself and wishes can be expressed. Creating new rituals together can also bring a positive energy.

To involve your kids in the funeral process, try the following tips:

  • Talk them through the process of the day, so it isn’t completely alien, or even take them to the venue before the day of the funeral.
  • Let them know that being a part of the ceremony may be, for them, an opportunity to show how much they loved the person who has died.
  • Perhaps they may want to choose a poem to be read, select a song, light a candle, pick photographs or draw a picture to place in the casket.
  • Inclusion and interaction helps bring down barriers as the attention shifts from ‘I am’ to ‘I will’, and this opens the door to new conversations.
  • Your child may or may not want to see the person who has died. Some may need the visual reality, seeing with their own eyes that being dead is not the same as being asleep.

The importance of expressing emotion

When children ask questions, answer with honesty. When they cry, ask them what the matter is. Children cry for a reason. Let them know you are there for them. Give them your full attention. Just listen to their words and be ready with that hug if they want one. All emotion needs expression. Only then can we teach children to understand and value their feelings.

Similarly, if you feel like crying, let them see your tears. Show them it’s OK to cry when we feel sad. Don’t try to change how they feel. Encourage them to talk through their tears – the emotion is contained in the words and the words help to unravel the confusion.

Children should be encouraged to live in the present moment and say what they feel without fear of repercussion.

Children should be encouraged to live in the present moment – to be able to say what they feel when they feel it, without fear of repercussion, cleansing their emotions as they move on. This will also teach them to respect the opinions and feelings of others.

They need to know it’s OK to talk about their loss or the person who has died, even if it does make them sad. Children also need to know they can rely on the adults around them to make them feel secure when they have been affected by a loss. A little encouragement and a lot of listening go a long way.

Remembering a loved one

Memory is how we hold on to the things we love. Choosing photographs together to make a scrapbook can evoke lovely conversations and memories to share.

Choose a beautiful memory box or a lovely glass jar for cherished items. Have a memory hour, where you all think of your favourite memories of the person who has died, write them down and put them in the memory box. On the sad days of remembrance, read them together and enjoy the warmth of memory. Grief is not permanent, it ebbs and flows. This is normal.

If you teach your children to communicate their feelings with those they love in safety, it can give them the confidence they need to get out there, get on with life and truly live. Their lives can then be navigated so much more easily, without wasting energy on trying to be or feel differently, in order to fit in. Teach them to delight in their uniqueness.

With no inner conflict, we can actually experience life as it happens in the present moment. There should be no framework, no rule book. It is whatever we are experiencing. Children are like sponges – they will absorb all that you put near them. So let them absorb the things that will serve them well.

Grieving the loss of a mother

By | Blog

Our Managing Director Lianna Champ has 40 years’ experience in bereavement and grief recovery, counselling and supporting families. She is a regular contributor to magazines, newspapers and the radio. Her latest article here covers grief over the loss of a mother and is a very heartfelt piece based on her own experience.  Below was published in People’s Choice, which is an online services company that works with workplaces to maximise productivity and wellbeing amongst their employees.

Everybody reacts differently when their mother dies. My mother and I were close and when I lost her, I thought that I would never feel ‘normal’ again. I sometimes couldn’t breathe and was often sick. I couldn’t sleep and had to force myself to eat. Yet somehow through all that, I accepted that this is how it was and I just let it happen. Some days were infinitely harder than others, but as long as I kept coming up for air, and facing that I was meeting my worst fear – losing someone I loved so deeply – somehow I knew that eventually I would be okay.

I felt so conspicuous in my grief – as if there were a big invisible finger pointing down at the top of my head. I felt disconnected from those around me who quite simply didn’t know what to say or what to do. I realised that I looked different: my loss had changed me and I would have to re-learn myself.

For many people, losing a mum is like losing two people – a mum and a best friend.

It’s important to remember that children learn their coping mechanisms from the adults around them. They may not always understand what you are saying but they watch what you do.  Let your children know that you are still there for them even though you may feel like folding. You are still a parent and have that responsibility.

It is vital that we are emotionally honest in all our life events. If your mother’s death is expected, don’t be afraid to include children in the lead up to this event. Use this time to offer them a valuable opportunity to express their love, to say things to their grandmother that are important to them and to share everything that needs to be shared. Experiencing our grief together brings us closer and is all part of the cycle of life. Let the words and the tears flow.

You are teaching your children a very important emotional tool – how to grieve. Create a safe space so they can talk about how they are feeling. You go first and if you cry, talk through your tears. Explain that what you are feeling may be different to how they feel. Each loss experience is as unique to us as our own fingerprint. Try not to offer an opinion on your child’s words, be open and accepting in your body language. Feedback words to show you understand, but don’t interrupt their flow. Don’t try and analyse what they are feeling and don’t compare how you are feeling. Comparisons minimise the importance of their expressions and can affect their self-esteem and confidence and create imaginary failings where there are none.

Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, you will inevitably be thinking of your mother. It’s okay to tell your child that you miss her. Explain that on this special day, you want to share a hug and your tears, to share how losing your mother has made you feel and to openly express your memories.

Somewhere along the line we have surrendered the right to allow ourselves to grieve. We try to hide our tears and swallow the lump in our throats. When we are happy, we feel like sharing our news with everyone. Sadness must be shared too. Both emotions need equal expression. Show your child you are not afraid to be vulnerable in your grief – this is where healing begins.

Memory is how we hold on to the things we love. On Mother’s Day, why not share a special activity with your child? If they don’t want to join in, don’t force it but tell them what you are doing and why. Choose photographs together to make a scrap book or draw pictures. This can evoke lovely conversations and memories. Choose a beautiful memory box for cherished items. Have a memory hour where you think of and share your favourite memories of mum. Our memories are the fruits on the tree of grief.

Thank you to Lianna Champ for this article, previously featured in Families Magazine.

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in bereavement and grief recovery. Her book How to Grieve Like a Champ is available from Amazon (£9.99).

The Parental Choice team are experts in helping working families find childcare and providing advice and strategies to help them deal with the challenges of their care responsibilities.

To find out more call us on 020 8979 6453, email or check out our services for families.

Fascinating Myths about Funerals

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17 fascinating myths and facts about funerals

Feel in the dark when it comes to funerals? We shine the light on this often unsettling topic, to help you feel more assured and empowered when planning a funeral.


Funerals are sometimes viewed as a rather morbid topic of conversation. On top of this, if you’re grieving, sorting out the practicalities that surround death can sometimes feel overwhelming.

But funerals don’t have to be a taboo topic. In fact, the more we talk openly about the end of life, the easier it often becomes to handle. Knowing what happens before, during and after a funeral can also makes it a far less scary process.

Lianna Champ, funeral director at Champ Funerals and author of How to Grieve Like a Champ, helps dispel some of the most common myths surrounding funerals and grief:

Myth: it’s hard to talk about death

In fact, it’s harder not to talk about it, because it leaves so many unanswered questions and decisions to be made at one of the most emotionally challenging times in our life. Planning in advance opens up new ways of creating something really special, without the element of grief, and can often include lots of laughter – as well as removing doubt about whether you’re doing the right thing when the time comes.

Myth: there are definite stages to grief

There aren’t. Each grief experience is as unique to you as your own fingerprint. Elisabeth Khuber-Ross identified five stages of grief following the diagnosis of a terminal illness, and these stages have incorrectly been transferred to stages of grief following a death. However, there are no stages to grief. Grief is incredibly personal; whatever you feel when you experience a loss is your own unique experience. When we try to fit ourselves into a framework, we go into conflict with our natural instincts.

Myth: you have to have a funeral

There are no legal requirements that stipulate you have to hold a funeral. You can actually do it yourself, though most people prefer the help and guidance of a professional funeral director, and you can be involved as much or as little as you like. Also, anyone can lead the service and it doesn’t have to take place in a church or crematorium. The ceremony can take place anywhere before the burial or cremation, as long as you have permission to take the coffin to the venue. You can even have the cremation or burial first, and then hold the ceremony straight afterwards or at a later date.

Myth: you have to be embalmed

In the UK, there is no legal requirement for embalming, unless the body is being sent abroad and a certificate of embalming is required. Depending on certain factors, you can view a body that hasn’t been embalmed.

Myth: funerals are grimly sad occasions

While once upon a time this was true, we now live in a society where funerals are becoming increasingly personal, and the hobbies and character of the person who has died are reflected throughout the funeral proceedings. For example, a coffin of a chocolate lover can be painted like the wrapper of a Kit-Kat, with ‘Death By Chocolate’ written along the side. This personalisation helps us to focus not on what we have lost, but what we have had.

Myth: funeral directors are miserable people

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a funeral director is first and foremost a people person’s job and a deeply rewarding one, too, filled with opportunities to make a significant difference in our communities and the lives of people who’ve lost a loved one.

If we’re miserable, we’d make everyone else miserable, too. We shine a light where we can. Being surrounded with loss in so many different circumstances means funeral directors really value and appreciate each day, and are always quick to see the positive in any situation.

Myth: your local funeral home is privately owned

Many independent-looking funeral directors are not independent. Most people prefer to use a local funeral home, expecting it to be a family owned and run business. However, many are actually owned by large corporations or private groups.

They take the business over, keep everything looking the same and hang their holding company plaque behind the front door of the premises, so you never see it when the door is open during office hours. Always ask who owns the business. An honourable funeral director will always tell you the truth.

Myth: you have to use a local funeral home

You don’t. If you prefer the funeral home in the next town, then by all means instruct them instead. There have been so many changes within the funeral profession over the past 10 years, that the days of using a funeral home simply because your parents and grandparents went there are over. It’s all about knowing what you want and asking before you commit.

You’ve all heard the phrase, ‘There are two certainties in life – death and taxes’. First, let’s look at tax. It is stringently regulated and you’ll find regulated tax specialists everywhere, who’ll tell you how to pay it, avoid it and some, even, how to evade it. Now, let’s look at death: the funeral industry in the UK is worth £2 billion a year, and yet it’s completely unregulated. That means anyone can open a funeral service, which is why the industry gets such a bad reputation.

Purchasing a funeral isn’t like a new TV or a new car – if you shop around, you can get the same product for a lower price.

Bad publicity generated from bad practice has really tarnished our wonderful profession. Attention has been directed purely to price. The public don’t seem to realise that purchasing a funeral isn’t like purchasing a new TV or a new car – if you shop around, you can get exactly the same product for a lower price.

You may think the burial or cremation is like for like, and it is. It’s what happens in between that can make a huge difference. A visit to three different funeral homes will create a surprisingly contrasting experience. Make sure you know who you’re dealing with and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll know if something doesn’t feel right.

Myth: funeral directors will rip you off

If I had a pound for every time someone told me that, I’d be lying on a beach in Barbados. While this may be true of some funeral directors, if you go into a funeral home with the intention of finding an affordable and inspiring option for your loved one’s funeral, most funeral directors will be more than happy to accommodate you. Reputable funeral homes all offer low-cost options and you should see evidence of continuing professional development, re-investment in their premises and a commitment to fair practice.

Myth: coffins are re-used following cremation

In the UK, the body is not removed from the coffin during cremation. The body, together with clothing, necessary packing and any other items (combustible friendly) are cremated with the coffin, which is why all coffins that are to be used for cremation must be combustible and do not emit smoke, give off toxic gas, or leave any retardant smears or drips after final combustion.

The Code of Cremation Practice forbids the opening of the coffin once it has arrived at the crematorium, and rules stipulate it must be cremated within 72 hours of the funeral service. The laws are different in America, where casket-style coffins are generally rented for the funeral service and the body is removed from it prior to cremation.

Myth: cremations are communal

Many people believe that coffins are cremated together. This is not so. The structure of the cremator only allows one coffin at a time and has a

Myth: you don’t get your own ashes back

You do. Each set of ashes has to be collected after each cremation and placed into its own container. This is then labelled and registered, or the next cremation cannot take place, due to the structure and computerisation of the equipment. Most crematoria welcome no-holds-barred visits to their sites, to dispel myths such as these. You may even see a local crematorium tour advertised in your area.

Myth: you don’t need to make a will

Actually, you do. It’s always best to do this through a professional solicitor, as the will must be complied with for it to be legally valid. Compliance is not always included on a homemade or template will – even though the template may be compliant, your content may not be and can invalidate it. For further information, please speak with your preferred solicitor.

There are four main benefits of making a will:

  1. In these day of blended families, it can stop family disputes.
  2. It makes the administration of the estate easier after death.
  3. It guarantees your wishes are upheld.
  4. Many people assume their whole estate will automatically pass to their spouse, but if there is no will, it’s only the first £250,000. You may not be cash rich, but if you own property, it’s surprising how it all adds up.

Myth: you have to have a coffin

You don’t. In fact, the options are endless: traditional wood, willow, bamboo, cardboard, a shroud – you can even make or decorate the coffin yourself. Some people want an elaborate coffin – like wearing your best outfit for a special occasion. Other people see the coffin as a simple container for the body. We’ve worked with families who have made and decorated the coffin themselves, or decorated a plain coffin during the ceremony, as a way for people to participate.

You don’t. There’s no legal obligation to use a funeral director. You can take charge of some – or all – of the funeral arrangements yourself. However, the vast majority of people don’t want to do it all themselves, and this is where your funeral director is perfectly placed to help.

Knowing that you have the right to do it all yourself should give you high expectations of the person you are paying to do it on your behalf. Don’t be afraid to be involved as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. You’re only going to do this once, so make sure it’s right for you.

Myth: it takes two years to recover from a death

There are many factors that determine how well we go on to live again following our loss: the quality of the relationship we had with the person who has died; who we are as a person; and where we are in our lives.

If we were emotionally complete with the person who has died, we will naturally feel great sadness and despair when we realise we can’t see, talk to or touch them anymore, but won’t be weighed down with guilt and regret. I know people who are still living with their pain 20 years later, as if the loss happened yesterday. We need to learn to grieve at the time of our losses.

Tell the people in your life what they mean to you, regularly, so that if they are taken from you, you will know they went with your love.

It takes courage to embrace all of life’s experiences and to process our emotional responses – good, bad, happy or sad – as they arise. Life is not a series of happy moments, and is always interspersed with traumas and losses. By accepting and allowing ourselves to experience all life events as they occur, we can live fully and meaningfully. That means being honest with your feelings in all your relationships.

Tell the people in your life what they mean to you, regularly, so that if they are taken from you, you will know they went with your love. There’s no timeline for grief, but honesty with yourself and others is the best thing.

17 Signs You Haven’t Grieved Properly

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What causes delayed grief?

Grief doesn’t just affect us emotionally, it affects us physically, mentally and spiritually too. Delayed grief is how we describe grief that isn’t recognised at the time of a loss and which can then be triggered at any time, manifesting itself and taking its toll in many ways.

Loss accumulates when it has not been properly grieved, and this happens when we continually ignore or avoid our pain and pretend we are OK.

Sometimes we may feel that holding on to our grief will be a way to show the world the depth of our love for the person who has died and we continue to hold ourselves in a place of pain.

candles representing grief

When we suffer a significant loss, automatic coping mechanisms kick in which enable us to function in the early days. We don’t always question these coping mechanisms and may think what we are doing is the right thing for us and so continue to use them. It might be that we think it is the correct thing to try to think ourselves over our loss and carry on as normal—especially if we have children or others in our life who rely on us.

Why is it damaging to delay grief?

man coping with grief

We may feel that we should be the one who doesn’t fall apart or let our tears show in an attempt to make those around us feel better, to show them that we are coping and strong, all the while burying our own feelings and ignoring our own emotional pain.

coping with grief

Physical and emotional signs that you haven’t grieved properly include:

  1. Preoccupation with sad or painful memories
  2. Refusing to talk about the loss in any way
  3. Increased use of alcohol, food, drugs or cigarettes
  4. Being abrupt and distracted when in company
  5. Spending a lot more time working or exercising—keeping busy to distract you from your grief
  6. Lack of energy
  7. Difficulty concentrating
  8. Withdrawing from family and friends
  9. Avoiding places that you visited together, in an attempt to avoid bringing up painful memories
  10. Keeping everything exactly the same in case it means you might forget them—creating a shrine to someone who has died can become an anchor in your grief that can keep you in a place of pain
  11. Being afraid to form new relationships for fear of being hurt
  12. Being disconnected from what is happening around you
  13. Inability to function in everyday activities—work, socialising or hobbies
  14. Headaches
  15. Digestive problems
  16. Loss of confidence—you may feel incomplete, especially if the person made you feel special and loved. Growth in self-confidence comes from thinking, deciding and acting, no matter what we are feeling. Even when we don’t feel good about ourselves, we can decide to act in ways that are good for us—making ourselves exercise because we know it’s good for us, eating well because we deserve to be healthy.
  17. Depression—physical symptoms of grief can feel like depression so it is important that we can identify the difference. Grievers have a reduced sense of concentration and often have trouble focusing. It plays havoc with their sleeping and eating patterns and simple tasks become difficult. Grievers can also self-identify as being depressed. Medicating grief does nothing to resolve the pain, it just masks it. Grief is not a medical condition. It cannot be cured with medication. It can, however, be something through which we pass if we are willing to realise that it is directly related to our unfinished emotional communications with the person or relationship we have lost.

What should I do now?

If you think you are experiencing unresolved grief and are looking for a way to recover, a good place to start is to imagine if you could have just one last conversation with the person who has died, what would you say to them?

Think about the things you admired about them, what you miss most, things you need to apologise for, things you need to forgive and what you loved about them. Have your pen and paper ready and a box of tissues.

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in grief counselling and funeral care and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ

Meet the Team

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Meet the Managing Director of Clear Cremation and Champ Funeral Services

Lianna Champ — Pioneer, MD, Funeral Expert, Civil Funeral Minister, Counsellor, Author and Speaker on the subject of grief.

People need help with grief, and there isn’t enough help out there. I want to make it easier to talk about death, grief and loss. To make it easier, acceptable and who knows… maybe even fashionable.

What made you want to become a Funeral Director?

Definitely vocational – I wanted to be an undertaker from the age of 9, even though I was always told I may as well be an astronaut as I would have no chance of either. I never wavered. Regardless of being classed as weird and called ‘Morticia’.

What qualifications do you possess and how do they help you do your job?

  • Diploma in Funeral Directing
  • Diploma in Embalming
  • NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy
  • Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

I think it’s very reassuring for the families we work with to know that we are trained and qualified to a professional level.

It helps me in my job knowing that the families we work with are receiving the best care and service possible. 

Being a qualified funeral director, grief care specialist and funeral minister create a hand in glove experience. 

What’s the working environment like at Clear Cremation and how would you describe your colleagues?

Each day is different. Everything can change in an instant – we never know who’s at the end of the phone, but whatever the call, we are always calm and knowledgeable and can help in an instant.

There’s a lovely atmosphere in the building, and we often receive lovely comments about it. Because of the nature of our work, we are like extended family, working really closely together to ensure a seamless service, but also to lift each other up when there’s a particularly traumatic funeral we have to arrange. We help and support each other.

What’s your advice to someone who is trying to cope with grief?

Find someone you feel safe with to share your feelings. Ask them just to listen without analysing what you are saying. In fact, without making any comment, just to accept your words.

When we are happy or receive good news, we want to share it with others. It’s the same when we are sad – we need to share that too. Very often, just voicing how we feel can release a lot of emotional tension.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

When I lost my mum in 2011. I had nowhere to turn. This sent me on a quest to learn everything I could about grief and this is now my area of specialism.

From working with thousands of grievers for over thirty years and receiving their feedback, we have crafted a unique approach to grief which heals negative emotions people may be carrying, which can complicate their present grief experiences.

When you can see that you have made even the tiniest difference to a family. It’s one of the most rewarding things about our work.

What’s your personal motto?

Always be your best.


Champ Funerals opening day in 1986 with the former Mayor & Mayoress of Hyndburn 

Who inspires you?

Always my mum.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

To take risks, try something new. I don’t want to have regrets about something I knew I should have done but didn’t. I like change, like extending our service and creating Clear Cremation and even though I have been running Champ for over thirty years, there have been many changes and new developments without losing our ethos of care and excellence.

If you were to tell one person, thank you for what you did, you made me who I am today, who would that be?

Again, my mum. There were many things I didn’t understand growing up. I didn’t see the gifts she was carving out for me. Now I do and am grateful to her on a daily basis. She is my guide and yardstick.