'Keeping things ticking over' manual

The purpose of putting together your Plan If is to provide your children, in the unlikely event of your death, with the stability and security that will help them begin to live with their loss.

When so much has changed so drastically, having some things stay the same can be comforting for children and young people. One young person felt comforted by the fact that the fresh washing continued to smell the same, despite the parent who normally did the laundry having died.

Some people put together a kind of manual of ‘how our life works’. This may include hints on everything from a reminder of the usual toothpaste bought, to children’s food preferences, to indications on faith and cultural practices followed.

There are no ‘rules’ to this; it is far more important that children feel supported, loved and cherished than that things stay the same. You don't need to set out every detail: it won’t be a huge deal if Joe gets peanut butter sandwiches in his lunch box when he loathes them. It just might be nice for Joe to have one less thing that changes.

Planning for pets

While Plan If is aimed at putting in place the things that would help your children if you were to die before they have grown up, it may help to indicate what you would want to happen to any pets. Sometimes, one parent may have been the main carer for the pet and the one left behind is unable to take on this responsibility. Or a move to a different location means that a pet can no longer be accommodated.

Depending on the pet’s role within the family, it may have a significant impact on a child or young person to also be without this steady presence at a time of grief. Thinking about a way in which the animal could be looked after and the children maintain contact would be helpful.