Five ways brave Kelsey can keep Toms memory alive for their children, by expert

Tom Parker, who died at the age of 33 last week, is now being grieved by his beloved family, friends and fans, including devoted wife Kelsey.

OK! got to witness the couple's incredible love story, including the birth of their two children – Aurelia, two, and Bodhi, one – and can confirm they were two peas in a pod.

The tragic death of a parent is hard for any child, at any age, but Bianca Neumann, Head of Bereavement at grief charity Sue Ryder, says there are practical ways to keep a person's memory alive.

"Research shows that the death of a parental figure can have a negative impact on both mental and physical wellbeing," she explains.

"Depending on the age of the child and the circumstances of the death, there can be a lot of heavy emotions and sometimes a worry that the memories of their parents can be lost as the child grows older.

"Younger children may not understand fully what it means to die, and it is likely that this could well be their first experience of grief."

"It’s important for adults to talk openly and support children by offering support if the child appears to be struggling or acting unusual," she continued.

"If you are offering support and are also grieving, ensure that you prioritise your grief too, remember that it is OK to not be OK, for both children and adults alike."

Here are a few practical ways, provided by Sue Ryder, to keep the memories alive of the parent who has died:

  • Keep photographs of the parents who have died around the home to remind them of past times. If there’s a family picture of a summer holiday, for example, this can spark positive memories each time it’s looked at. This can also help people to remember what their parents looked like, as there could be a fear that they may forget.

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  • Keep and share any videos of the parents who have died, so that children can watch them in their own time. It can be upsetting to feel like you can forget what a parent sounds like, so it can be reassuring to see them on video.

  • Ask people to write about their favourite memories of the parents who have died in a memory book. You can also ask if they have any copies of photos which they would be happy to include. Some people find that compiling these into a memory box, along with small items of clothing and perfumes helps to preserve important memories. This small gesture may help on difficult days, such as anniversaries and birthdays, way into the future.

  • For significant dates, such as anniversaries, birthdays and Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, plan ahead. Some children may like to get the wider family together, whereas others prefer to stick to their normal routine to avoid reminders of their parents. Some are better at talking than others. In grief we might need a variety of approaches as time goes by. Whilst on some days, emotions may make getting up and getting outside difficult, it is important to try to get energised every so often to improve mental wellbeing. If the parent had a favourite walk or cycle route, why not organise a group activity in that location, so everyone who feels up to it can feel closer, as well as getting some fresh air and light exercise.

  • Tell the school or educational setting that the child attends about what has happened. Children can act differently in this environment than at home and it’s important that teachers and any support teams are made aware, in case of any need for advice or referrals.

Bianca explains that each child is different and will require different support.

"People of all ages are different and there are many ways in which we can grieve, especially when it comes to a close relative," she says.

"It’s important for those closest to the child who is grieving for their parents to be given time to process.

"Be prepared for children to ask questions and encourage them to talk about what they are thinking and what they need to know. If you feel they need extra help, seek support from their GP.

"Sue Ryder also has a range of online bereavement support.

"For older children, who are over 18, they may consider joining a support group, such as Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Community to find others going through a similar experience or register with Sue Ryder’s free online bereavement counselling service."

If you'd like more help and information you can visit the Sue Ryder website.

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