Resources to support children in the event of a bereavement

Every year 20,000 children under the age of 16 years will be bereaved of a parent and many more will experience the death of someone else special in their life.

 In addition to these individual pupils, schools may also experience the death of a child at the school or a staff member.

 It is almost inevitable therefore, that at some time all schools will have to deal with a death that affects the school community.

 As children spend the vast majority of their time at school, teachers and staff members will be the primary source of care and support.  Bereaved children will see school as a safe haven away from the turmoil of emotions at home and will look to trusted staff members for help.

 

When talking to children:

  • Allow the children/young people to ask questions and answer them honestly and factually in terms that they will understand.

  • Allow the children/young people to verbalise their feelings.

  • Allow the children/young people to discuss the situation and share their experiences of death.

  • Be honest about your own feelings and talk about your relationship with the person.

  • Avoid using euphemisms.

  •  Those children/young people who have had more involvement with the person should be given the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences either within the group or on a one-to-one situation.

  • Ensure the children/young people understand that the death is nothing to do with anything they have said or done.  It is in no way their fault.

  • Reassure them that not all people who are ill or have had an accident will die and that many people get better.

  • Put an appropriate time limit on the discussion.  It is preferable to resume normal school activities as soon as possible thus ensuring minimal disruption within the school.

  • Conclude the discussion with a prayer or special poem to remember the person who has died and their family.

  • Be available for any child/young person who needs additional help and support.

The following website has some helpful resources on supporting a bereaved child