Chapter 6: Taking a proactive approach to student grief
“One of the hardest things about supporting grieving students is navigating the needs of each student - they all experience and express their grief so differently”. – Teacher
There are many myths and misconceptions about grief. By providing your students with some education about grief, you can help to equip them with the skills needed to navigate grief in a healthy way, both in the present and future situations.
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Grief includes all the feelings and thoughts that we have when we experience a big loss in life, such as when someone dies.
Grief is a healthy response to a difficult situation.
Each of us is affected differently by grief, depending on our personality, our previous experiences with loss and grief, the supports we have, and what’s going on in our lives at the time.
When a death happens, it can bring up our grief from previous losses.
It’s important to allow ourselves to experience the feelings and thoughts related to the loss.
There are many healthy ways of expressing grief thoughts and feelings, such as talking to others, crying, writing, art, physical activity, yelling in safe spaces, or punching pillows or a punching bag.
Consider incorporating information about grief into your curriculum so that your students learn that grief affects everyone differently. When they learn of a death, you can re-visit this and also remind them that it may bring up grief from previous loss experiences.
Sometimes a dynamic can develop in which students who considered themselves close to the student who died resent overt expressions of grief from others whom they perceive as having been less close. Providing grief education that includes the various factors that affect someone’s experience of grief can help students be more compassionate to one another.