5 Tips for Supporting Grieving Students
As our previous essay noted, the majority of teachers deal with grieving students regularly. According to a recent poll we performed in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, the vast majority of teachers would like to assist the grieving children in their care, but believe they lack the necessary training. Fortunately, instructors don’t need considerable training to make a positive effect on the lives of their grieving children. The purpose of this essay is to provide some of the fundamental knowledge.
First and foremost, it is critical to recognise that you do not need to be an expert to participate. Teachers can most effectively assist mourning children by just being there with them and being sensitive to their sentiments as they express them. Grieving students may find it more comfortable to talk to you at first because they are concerned about how their parents or caregivers are adjusting.
This does not imply that you should take up the role of a grief counsellor. In the case of a mourning student, teachers are not obligated to provide a therapeutic atmosphere for him or her. Instead, they should create a caring environment for mourning children, and direct them to professionals and other support services when necessary, such as grief counselling.
There is nothing anyone can do to prevent a child’s grief, but you can help by providing stability and comfort through one of the most difficult moments in a student’s life. The following five suggestions are meant to assist you in providing better assistance to the grieving students in your care:
1. Assist younger students in comprehending what has occurred.
It is appropriate to use the words “dead” and “dying” while discussing the death of a loved one with young children. Expressions such as “everlasting rest” and “passing away” may cause youngsters to get confused and make it more difficult for them to comprehend what has occurred. When people understand the fundamental realities of death — that it is irreversible, that everyone eventually dies, and that there are physical reasons why someone dies — they can eliminate common misconceptions and experience less stress, guilt, and shame following the death of a loved one.
2. Inviting Older Students to Participate in Discussion
When a close family member passes away, elder children may be forgotten — or even looked to for support to relieve the burden on the rest of the family. As a result, school becomes an extremely important location for them to get care from trustworthy adults. When you offer to communicate with older pupils, it is possible that they will not be ready to do so. They might prefer to spend their time alone or conversing with their friends. Even when they are truly feeling overwhelmed, they may claim that they do not require or wish to speak. Don’t try to impose your will on the conversation. Assist them in identifying other adults with whom they can communicate when they are ready, such as a guidance counsellor or mental health professional. Continue to be accessible and supportive, and offer to speak with them regularly.
3. Allow children to express themselves in their way.
The purpose is not to relieve children of their grief, but rather to provide them with an outlet through which they can express it. It is best not to make comments in an attempt to cheer up students who are grieving. If you were able to spend Christmas with him before he passed away, say something like, “At least he died a hero.” Additionally, it is typical to feel compelled to share personal experiences related to our losses. However, while dealing with mourning youngsters, it is essential to listen more and speak less. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves rather than “turning the tables” on them by bringing up your own terrible experiences. You can also tell students — and especially young children — that they are not to blame for the death of their classmates. Even when there is no cause to assume they are feeling guilty, emotions of guilt are practically universal in mourning youngsters, regardless of the circumstances.
4. Reach out to parents or caregivers and express your willingness to assist them.
The family of the mourning student should be informed of how he or she is functioning at school. Reach out to parents or caregivers and work together to make things happen. It is common for parents or caregivers to feel overwhelmed and unclear on how to best assist their children after a family member passes away. Your concern is greatly appreciated, and they generally welcome advice from school personnel.
5. Make Learning Supports Available
The inability to concentrate or study is common among children who are grieving over their parents. Their academic performance may benefit from tutoring, additional help, or temporary adjustments to their exam schedules or other classroom demands Don’t wait for problems at school to arise before stepping in to assist. Inform your children, their parents or carers, and other important persons at the school, such as coaches, band directors, and club sponsors, about your plans. This network can assist you in coordinating the assistance you provide.
The bottom line is that during the week, children spend approximately the same number of awake hours in school as they do at home. Education professionals are physically on the “front lines” of the childhood grieving crisis — and as a result, they have a unique chance to assist. A little understanding can go a long way in a difficult situation.