This country collects information each year on the number of children affected by parental divorce, but not on the number affected by parental death.
Seems odd. But does it matter?
Well, apart from anything else, it makes it hard for local services to plan if they don’t know how many children in their area have been bereaved.
Thinking more broadly, the fact that this data isn’t collected routinely seems to signify that bereaved children’s experiences don’t matter to us as a society.
At the Childhood Bereavement Network, we’ve had a go at estimating the numbers using small studies with representative samples, mortality statistics and census data, but these really are estimates. We think around 23,600 parents die each year in the UK, leaving dependent children. That’s one parent every 22 minutes.
We can carry on producing these estimates, but we would much rather this information was collected routinely. That would make us all more confident about the numbers. We’d know exactly how many children in each local authority or clinical commissioning group had been bereaved in a year. And if we know how many, we’d probably know who they were, too. That could allow us to get information to bereaved families earlier about how children grieve, and how they can be helped.
We think that’s pretty convincing as an argument.