Grief is something that touches everyone in most parts of life. Unfortunately, that can include children who need to learn how to grieve as well. If students are dealing with bereavement due to the loss of a faculty member, or peer, it’s important that they’re able to express themselves within the school.
Healing as a classroom can help students move forward. These are the top ways teachers and schools can help students working through bereavement.
Help Younger Students Understand
Younger students will struggle with understanding more than anyone else. Few young students will have already experienced loss, so you may be watching them go through their first brush with understanding mortality. It’s vital that you’re honest about what happened but that you don’t go into too many details about the body or what happens after death, making sure to be clear on the fact that the person is gone, so they don’t get confused.
Encourage Self Expression
Self-expression is an important part of grieving. Not only does it give students the chance to work through how they’re feeling, give themselves the chance to connect with peers, and allow them to find their voice: but it also helps them look deeper into what they’re feeling. A student who isn’t sure what they feel yet can explore it further by talking it out and come to a consensus on what it is they’re dealing with.
Be Nonjudgemental and Open
Everyone heals in a different way, and grief can express itself in a multitude of different emotions, phrases, and feelings. If your students are going through grief, it’s vital that you’re open to how they express themselves and that you’re nonjudgemental.
If you hold religious beliefs about it, or your students do, it’s vital that you don’t impose your beliefs on your students or allow them to impose them on one another. Everyone deserves to express their feelings without concern of judgment or harassment.
Offer Assistance to Parents and Caregivers
Loss can be hard on parents and caregivers as well, even if they don’t know the person who passed. Children come home with a lot of questions, fears, and ideas that they need to talk through, and not every guardian will be ready for that. It’s vital that schools reach out to parents and caregivers and let them know what happened, including some information on what they can expect and some tips on how to handle this. Death isn’t easy for anyone, but it can be made easier to talk about.
Offer Learning Supports and Resources
Offer teachers and students support and resources through this time. Grief support can be anything from free counseling being available to after-school grief groups to talk things through or more leniency with taking breaks or breathers away from class when needed. Grief is a lot to deal with and can overwhelm students, so it’s vital they’re given the space they need.
Loss Can Be a Lot to Deal With
Loss is one of the most difficult things anyone can deal with. Talk it through with your students, be honest, and be open to them expressing themselves.