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Five mobile apps helping children understand grief

Sad little girl looking at tablet

As a friend or family member supporting a bereaved child, you may feel you also need a little support in helping the child understand what they are going through.

Although nothing can replace the love and support you may be showing them, mobile apps are among the helpful resources that can help you to support a child through the grieving process.

Here, we take a look at five grief apps developed by specialist organisations and with input from young people, which may help a child you know to understand death and the emotions they experience when they are adapting to life after the loss of a loved one.

1. Child Bereavement UK

Young bereaved people supported by national charity Child Bereavement UK, have created a mobile app for 11-25 year olds who have experienced the death of a loved one. The app was made to help young bereaved people feel less lonely and inspire others to support them. It can also be used by friends, teachers, parents and professionals who want to learn more about supporting bereaved young people. Child Bereavement UK has included a built-in notepad in the app so that the users are able to freely express their feelings. The app also has information on coping with bereavement, tools for emotional self-help, where to find support and messages from other young people who have lost a loved one.

2. Smiles & Tears by Nelson’s Journey

Smiles & Tears is a smartphone grief app designed by Norfolk based child bereavement charity Nelson’s Journey.

The app, which was funded by BBC Children in Need, allows children to record memories, send virtual gifts and write thoughts, feelings and emotions. It also provides tips on how to manage emotions such as anger, confusion, guilt and loneliness. The app is available for download on Android and IPhone.

3. Lilies

Lilies is a user-friendly mobile grief app for young people which gives virtual hugs. Developed by six girls from Stratford Grammar School in Warwickshire, the app provides a safe community to share thoughts and memories, as well as grief tips.

National bereavement organisation Winston’s Wish, which is supporting the app, said: “​The Lilies project team have created something very special with this app. They did something very few people do — stopped and thought about those children and young people who have experienced the death of someone close to them."

4. Apart of Me

Apart of Me is a mobile gaming app developed to provide children with strength and resilience when someone is dying or has died.

Set in a colourful virtual world, the app was developed by Bounce Works, and allows children to curate memories of their loved ones in a beautiful and engaging way.

Upon opening the app, its users are introduced to a peaceful island that is theirs to explore. As they discover the various parts of the island, they can undertake quests and puzzles. These have been especially created to help children process their emotions and also help adult carers to begin and support difficult conversations with them.

Julie Samuel, founder patron of Child Bereavement UK says: “I look forward to being able to share this tool with our extensive networks of children, families, and professionals.”

5. Nino’s Mourning Toolbox

Targeted at children aged four to 12 years old, Nino’s Mourning Toolbox tells the story of a dinosaur whose sister has died. The interactive story journeys through steps in the grieving process to help children overcome their loss and help families to support each other.

This mobile app invites children to answer death-related questions in a friendly and creative way. The activities encourage singing, drawing, inventing, speaking, thinking and listening as a means to better understand the death of a family member. The app is available for download on Android and iPhone.

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