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Care pyramid a source of support for bereaved children

Author: Mary Ellen Breen
06 July 2015
  • Members of Grange Gymnastics, Santry, Ryan Geary, Rachel Burke, Sarah Pollard, Emma Kelly, William Kelly and Emma Pierce at the launch of the Childhood Bereavement Care Pyramid.

The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN) has developed a Bereavement Care Pyramid, a resource for those concerned with identifying and responding to the needs of a child who is bereaved.

Every day in Ireland 80 people die, and many of those left grieving the loss of a loved one are children. According to research by ESRI by the age of nine 28% of children have lost a grandparent and 2% have lost a parent.

While the majority of children can cope with their bereavement with the help of family members and their community, some children will require further support. The Irish Childhood Bereavement Care Pyramid recognises the essential role of families and communities in helping a child to cope with the loss of a loved one.

The tool sets out different levels of support available for children and recommends the level of competency required for those delivering the support to the child. In exploring the different level of needs exhibited by children following a death, the Pyramid divides these needs into those that apply to most children (level 1), those that apply to some children (level 2 and 3) and those that apply to a few children (level 4). The model is intended for use by parents, teachers, health professionals and indeed any adult in contact with bereaved children or young people.

Chair of the ICBN Bríd Carroll said, “The ICBN model is a means of clarifying what may be required for children at a difficult time in their young lives and is a big step towards creating a joined up approach to children’s wellbeing. The pyramid will be pivotal to the future of bereavement support in Ireland and has the potential to inform practice for years to come."


The ICBN is a hub for those working with bereaved children, young people and their families in Ireland. It is funded by Tusla the Child and family Centre and The Irish Hospice Foundation.

The aim of the ICBN is to facilitate easy access to a choice of high-quality local and national information, guidance and support to enable children and young people to manage the impact of death and loss in their lives. It was founded after Irish research found there was a lack of emphasis in government policy on children’s bereavement and a range of different approaches used locally.

Membership to the network is open to professionals working directly with bereaved children, those who occasionally support them and people interested in the area of children and young people’s loss. For more information on membership and the work of the ICBN see

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