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We can assist you to take your own action in relation to all or part of your family law needs. We can advise you whether you need representation.

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Losing a loved one is hard enough to process as an adult, but how do children manage the trauma?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused devastation across the globe. Governments have implemented strict lockdown regulations in order to try to curb the spread of the virus, which has also impacted on people’s traditional mourning and grieving customs.

We’re no longer allowed in hospitals to hold the hand of a loved one who is drawing their final breath. We’re unable to say our last goodbyes in person.

In South Africa, funerals are limited to 50 people in total, and family members are not allowed to have any contact with the body of the individual who has passed away from Covid-19.

Instead of being surrounded by love and comfort from friends and family, and receiving the support of our community, the stigma of illness and prevalence of newly instilled rules of social distancing have often left the individual feeling alone in these times of need. This isolation is especially traumatic for children who have lost parents, grandparents, and family members who meant a lot to them.

How can we help our children process this loss?

For those who are helping the child through the journey of loss, “it is important to consider what the parent’s beliefs are especially regarding death,” advises Educational Psychologist Nontsikelelo Rajuili. “Find out if the child understands death. Do they know that it is irreversible and permanent.  Usually children between 0-4 years do not understand these concepts.  If not, it’s important to explain what death is.”

Use simple language, don’t lie and make up stories to try to ‘save their feelings’

“Explain in simple language what death is. They need to understand that it is permanent, and the person will not come back,”

says Rajuili.

Another way of approaching the situation (based on your beliefs) is to offer the child an understanding of the difference between the physical body and the soul.

“Children are visual,” says Rajuili. “So you can use a doll as a demonstration. Describe how a soul can live inside a person’s body. The soul is the person who you speak to all the time. When the person dies, the soul that lives inside the body is released. The body remains and is buried or cremated.”

“Another way of describing it is like a person wearing a jacket. When they die, they take the ‘jacket of life off’, and leave it on the earth. The jacket is buried because the person inside has left.”

The relationship and attachment the child had to the deceased will play an important role in the grief process

Chat to the child about how they felt about the person. What they loved about them, and how important they were in the child’s life.

“Find out the type of attachment that the child had with the deceased was secure, avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganised,” says Rajuili. This will help inform you as to how the child may be processing the loss.

Stages of grief

3 Fs

Every child’s reaction to a tragedy will be different. But many of them will go through what Kubler Ross (1969) refers to as the Stages of Grief.

The child might be shocked, and the reaction will include the 3 Fs: Freeze, Fight or Flyhow do i help children who lost a family

  • Freezing: “They might not say anything, and act as if they do not care,” says Rajuili. “But this is not the case. Freezing may be their way of coping at that time.”
  • Fighting: “They might fight where they show a lot of anger by crying and throwing tantrums.”
  • Flying: “They withdraw and avoid talking and do not want anything to do with the situation.”

“Allow them to express these feelings,” advises Rajuili. “Reflect on how they might feel by sharing how you feel about losing grandpa or grandma.  Do not undermine or trivialise what they are saying, empathise with them.”

Baby language

“Some children may regress and behave few years below their age,” says Rajuili.

“Some may start wetting the bed or soiling themselves. Those whose language has developed may begin to have a baby language again.  This is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Comfort them if they need a hug.”


Even after explaining to the child about death, they may reach a stage of denial where they continue to ask where their loved one is. Don’t get frustrated with them. Go through the explanation again gently, and allow them to deal with the loss in their own time.


“Towards acceptance they might show signs of depression where they start to refuse food, play alone, and do not enjoy what they used to enjoy or play as they used to play,” says Rajuili.

“Finally, they might accept that a parent or grandparent is permanently gone. The period cannot be measured on how long this will take. The stages might not be in a chronological order and can oscillate.”

How can we help children process the trauma of losing a loved one to Covid-19?

Allow them to participate in any rituals or ceremonies that are taking place

Just like adults, children need closure after a traumatic experience. This often comes through a ritual or ceremony like a funeral or memorial service. Don’t exclude children just because they are ‘young’ and you think they won’t understand what’s happening.

“Involve a child in the funeral process,” advises Rajuili.

“Let them help cut and prepare flowers, sing, make a poem for the deceased to say goodbye. They can also release a balloon at the graveside or crematorium.”

how to help children process the trauma of losing a loved one


Nontsikelelo Rajuili, Educational Psychologist

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Bereavement counselling what do i do

What is bereavement counselling and why you should try it?

When we were young, we were always told that death is simply part of the cycle of life.  All of us will experience losing someone at some point and as human beings, grief and bereavement is a common reaction to this loss.

These feelings encompass a spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness to anger.  A person’s reaction and behaviour to losing a loved one is always a unique experience.  It can depend highly on the circumstance, their background, relationship to the person, and their belief.  Nevertheless, a person mourning the death of someone they truly love and care for will really take time.

Bereaving is a very personal experience.  If you have lost someone, whether a friend or a family member, you must remember that your heart and mind will have their own pace in healing.  It is both a gradual and personal experience at the same time.

Counselling helps people recognize where they are in the grieving process, it can help by guiding them in coping with the loss.

Our Bereavement Counsellors will help clients in finding peace and answers through their grief and develop strengths to cope with the loss and with day-to-day living.  Although mourning is a very personal experience and solely depends on a person, there are many common feelings and experiences every person feels when losing someone. Talking with our experts will enable clients to learn more about what their feeling, make sense of it all, and overall move on with the experience, whilst honouring the memory of their late friend/relative.

Coping With Loss

When experiencing the death of a loved one, it is completely normal to feel a range of emotions regardless of whether the death was expected or not.  Most people experience a ‘numbness’ when hearing the news but, there is no real chronological order to the process of grieving.

Some emotions people commonly experience are confusion, shock, despair, guilt, denial, disbelief, anger, and yearning, to name a few.  These feelings are natural and the length of time can vary significantly from person to person.  Grief is something you cannot prepare for, as the reality is often very different once it happens to you, many people suggest the overwhelming intensity of the loss was a surprise to them, others suffer guilt that they were able to move on so quickly!

Grief may trigger a change in mental health and general mood.  Just remember that it is healthy for you to feel these feelings since it will help come to terms with your loss.

People experiencing grief and bereavement may find themselves bouncing between these emotions in order to make sense of the situation.  It can be calm and soothing (such as believing that your loved one lived a good life) or angry and regretful, like thinking that it wasn’t their time to go or they still had something to do in this world.

It is also common for people mourning the death of a loved one to feel some sort of responsibility. For example, people may blame themselves for the death, thinking that they could have prevented it if only they had done something.

Some people find it easier to grieve together with their family while some prefer to grieve alone and doing solo activities like exercising, computer games or nothing at all.  It is often frustrating watching someone going about their daily business soon after the passing of a loved one – but please bear in mind, they are just trying to cope, and that maybe the outlet that they need.

There is no right way of grieving. What works for you may not work for someone else.

Some people have different coping mechanisms and it varies on how the person reacts to the loss. However, if you have trouble and feel like you need a helping hand to guide you in this process, call the team at What Do I Do, we are more than willing to help you through this painful phase of your life.

Grief Models

In an attempt to understand the complex process of grieving and bereavement, psychologists and professionals outlined models of grief based on the common patterns and traits shared by people experiencing grief.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 identified a five linear stage of grief which she named the following;

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

This model is used by Kubler-Ross to further illustrate the common stages experienced by a person in bereavement.  She also noted that a person may revisit any certain stage at any point in their life throughout the years.

Margaret Stroebe and Hank Schut, on the other hand, developed an alternative process of grieving based on a dual process. In their model, they identified two processes associated with this feeling called loss-oriented activities and restoration-oriented activities.

Loss-oriented Activitiesi need couselling for bereavement

Described as those that are closely related or directly related to the death.  These activities include the following:-

  • Experiencing anger, sadness, and other negative attitudes
  • Crying
  • Longing for the deceased person’s presence
  • Dwelling on the death
  • Avoiding physical activities

Restoration-oriented Activities

On the other hand, restoration-oriented activities are directly associated with a person’s secondary lifestyle. These activities include:-

  • Change in routine
  • Developing brand new ways of connecting with loved ones
  • Adapting and cultivating to a brand new way of life

Schut and Stroebe further noted that people will move back and forth from these two processes.

Bereaving Is An Emotional Support To Loss

Like it or not, losing someone is an integral part of life.

There are many ways you can ask help for grieving.  This can be through your family priest, a bereavement specialist, psychologist, and even with family and friends.

A family priest or spiritual guide can help you spiritually in coping up with grief.  Whenever we lose someone, we ask questions about life and death in general. People with strong spiritual beliefs may find it easier to talk with someone fluent in this like religious leaders and such. Following and undergoing spiritual rituals also helps in the grieving process. People who need answers and solutions may also go to a psychologist to help them make sense of things.

Talking to them and letting them know how you feel during this process proves to be also a really helpful solution. The same thing can be said to your friends and family who are more than willing to help and provide company and emotional support.

If you feel like this is too much for you to handle or you just want someone to talk to and make sense out of all of this, we have some of the best mental and emotional health professionals to guide you in this process.

We are here to help

Towards this process, it is best to keep in mind that you are never alone.   No-one needs to suffer alone.

Contact us on if you are finding it difficult to find the right resources to help you through.

What do I do about bereavement counselling?

Living with marfan syndrome dream again

Isaiah Austin, a true Basketball champion, lost his sight in one eye in the 8th grade, but forever maintained his “life vision”.

Isaiah always had a dream that one day his name was going to be called in the NBA draft, that he would walk on the stage and accept his nomination.  He never lost sight of his “vision” to be the best that he can be despite having to overcome enormous obstacles being physically visually impaired.

Standing at 7’1″ tall, with a wider wingspan of 7’3″, Isaiah was just 5 days from being named in the NBA draft, when he tested positive to Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder affecting the body’s Dream Again Book Isaiah Austin What Do I Doconnective tissue. What this meant for Isaiah, is that he could never play competitive basketball again, or he could risk serious injury or even death.

living with marfan syndrome what do i doThe arteries in his heart were enlarged and at risk of rupturing if he were to continue with intense training if he overworked his body or pushed too hard.

In his book, Dream Again, by Isaiah Austin, A Story of Faith, Courage, and the Tenacity to Overcome, Isaiah talks about his life story rather than his adversities.

Make it your excuse or make it your story.

Isaiah Austin on facing hardships

He continues to lead a full life, raising money to continue research to raise awareness on Marfan Syndrome.   He strives to give people hope, to help people realise what a blessing life really is, and to try to be there to encourage others to find out what it really means to Dream Again in their own lives.

I feel I am one of the lucky ones, learning to find a new dream.

“My vision is a huge deal to me, I don’t ever take it for granted, I’ve always taken great pride in how well I saw the game of basketball. especially when I was out there on there competing on the court, and I have worked hard to see those things with one good eye better than most players could with two.”

“When I talk about how to see, I now talk about something much bigger.  Life vision is all about how well you can visualise your dreams. I’ve learnt to look towards the positive.   To see my dreams coming true even when they took an unexpected turn.  Dreams are important.”

Isaiah Austin Foundation Dream Again What do I doThere are so many people who are afraid to follow their visions / their dreams.  Isaiah’s book and his Foundation will inspire anyone wanting to find their purpose and demonstrate through genuine hard work and faith, you will find your way.

The team here at What Do I Do are proud supporters of the Marfan Foundation and will continue to educate and provide awareness of this often misdiagnosed and misunderstood disease, with some victims often finding out too late that they had the condition, leaving their loved ones struggling for answers.


Living with Marfan Syndrome Isaiah Austin