Being able to share bereavement related thoughts and feelings are the essence of mourning. The bereaved child needs to be able to think about their memories, thoughts and feelings and learn to share them appropriately. They need to know who is going to understand and respect their feelings. They need trustworthy people who are going to be sensitive to them, people who believe them when they say they are worried and will give them the extra reassurance and affection they need. Knowing who these people are can be quite difficult for them to identify.
It is possible however to help the child develop a greater awareness of the personal qualities in people around them. The exercise for this is called trust circles. On a large sheet of paper draw a small circle in the centre and ask the child to think of that circle as being themselves and decorate it. Another circle is then drawn close to and around that one. The child is asked to think about which people they can say anything to and any time and know they will be understood. These people are placed in the second circle. Another circle is drawn slightly wider than the first and this is for those people whom they can say some things at any time. A third circle is for those people to whom they can say some things only at some times. In this way the child learns that there are layers of friends and that they need to be selective about who they can trust with what. This exercise although very simple has some important features. It creates a concrete representation of significant people in the child’s world and encourages them to think about their individual strengths and values. It also provides an interesting insight into the child’s growing awareness of their need to have extra safe people and encourages them to think before they share their inner most thoughts so that they are sharing them with someone who will listen.