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Death of a family member

The death of a family member brings everything to a halt. Losing a parent, spouse, child, sibling or other relative is a shock. The death may occur suddenly or after a long-term illness, for example.

You can never be fully prepared for death. Many questions may remain unanswered, particularly if the relative has committed suicide. Everyone reacts to and processes the loss in their own way.

A family is standing around a coffin and mourning their lost loved one.

The death may at first be difficult to accept. The method of death may also affect the way in which the death is processed. The death of a family member causes a crisis situation in the family.

The stages of a traumatic crisis are shock, response, processing and reorientation. The death may also evoke conflicting feelings. More information about the stages of a traumatic crisis in Finnish.

When a family member dies, most people seek support from their relatives and friends. Many people also feel that peer support and professional help provide relief and comfort.

The death of a partner causes great sorrow (more information in Finnish). In addition to your own grief and processing your own feelings, the partner’s death and possible widowhood involve legal obligations (more information in Finnish) and having to take care of your children.

For a child, the death of a parent or carer is a powerful and traumatic experience. The child’s sense of security is shaken. The child requires help and support from adults in order to process the death and the sorrow it evokes.

The child should be encouraged to ask about what has happened, to express his or her emotions and to reminisce about the deceased parent or relative.

In addition to supporting the child, it is also important that you look after your own well-being. Many young people may also easily withdraw to be alone with their emotions, despite requiring support.

Miten tukea lasta, kun läheinen on kuollut?, Suomen nuoret lesket ry (Guidebook to Supporting a Child After the Death of a Loved One; in Finnish)


The death of a child is a devastating event that has a powerful effect on people. Miscarriage may also evoke the same type of emotions.

Everyone expresses grief and loss in their own way. Longing often becomes a permanent part of life. When affected by shock, you should ask for and accept support from relatives, friends and peers.

It is also important that you take care of your own well-being. You can find out more about the practical arrangements on the Käpy ry website (in Finnish), for example.

The death of a child touches the parents as well as the family’s other children, relatives and friends. Advice for supporting the child is available on the website of The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (in Finnish), for example.

Chief Physician Anita Puustjärvi, Child Psychiatry: Menetyksen kohtaaminen, suruprosessi ja traumatyö (Facing Loss, the Grief Process and Trauma Work; in Finnish)



Everyone has the right to grieve the death of a family member in their own way. Everyone faces loss at their own pace. You can reminisce about a deceased family member as often as you want.

When dealing with death, some people are supported by their religion or world view. For example, in Helsinki, the Evangelical Lutheran Parish organises open grief groups and provides people with the opportunity to talk with a diaconal worker.

The rituals related to death, such as saying goodbye at a funeral, may provide support in grief. Getting to grieve in peace and receiving support from relatives, friends, peers and professionals help the ones left behind move on.


Crisis emergency support

Silhouette of a family in crisis.

Available 24 hours a day.

09 3104 4222

Crisis Emergency Support (Kriisipäivystys) can provide mental help and support if you find yourself in a sudden crisis. A sudden crisis may be a serious accident, the death of someone close to you, or experiencing violence.

24.07.2020 09:48