Are you assisting a student or a family who:
Make a referral to Hospice Waterloo Region – we can help.
Anticipatory loss and bereavement have a profound impact on the learning, development, and emotional adjustment of children and youth. These often lead to struggles with academic performance, social relationships and behaviour at school.
Current research asserts that:
A growing number of children and youth must find their way as they cope with deaths of cared-about persons. Normal grief is not a mental disorder or a pathology. Normal grief usually includes some common emotional reactions. Most bereaved students experience painful and often very distressing emotional, physical, and social reactions; however, researchers agree that most bereaved students (80%) adapt over time, typically within the first 6 months to 2 years.
Sometimes the effects of coping are demonstrated in behaviors that require the need for supportive interventions. Have you noticed any of these behaviours in a child or teen?
The unique role schools can play in supporting grieving students is powerful. Schools can serve as a place of stability for students experiencing bereavement. However, many school professionals feel unprepared and apprehensive about reaching out to provide support to grieving students. They worry that they will say or do something clumsy or wrong, make matters worse or start a conversation they won’t know how to finish. Research suggests that to ‘not say anything’ is ‘saying something’ to children and youth.
Students often report that their friends and the adults around them don’t understand what they are going through and say and do things that are not helpful. It is not uncommon for teachers to pressure students to perform at the same level as before the death, without acknowledging the toll grief takes on the ability to concentrate and complete tasks.
Educators are role models who influence their students. When a student is dealing with an end-of-life situation, or is grieving the death of a loved one, the needs of that student can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions on how you can support your students during this challenging time:
When a child/teen knows someone who is dying or is grieving the death of a loved one:
When a Child/Teen is Seriously Ill
When a Child/Teen Dies
Currently there are many websites which provide helpful information to educators and adults supporting students. Some of the most helpful are listed below:
American Hospice Foundation (US)
Grief at School: A Guide for School Personnel
Description: This helpful resource supports school personnel in understanding children’s grief across developmental stages and offers concrete suggestions for helping a child who is grieving. It is printable in pdf format.
BC Children’s Hospital (CND)
Grief and Loss Pamphlets
Description: BC Children`s Hospital has created an extensive series of pamphlets for supporting teens and children about grief and loss and those working with them.
The Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children (US)
Description: This helpful website provides online information and activities for educators to support children and their families who are grieving a death.
Hamilton Health Sciences: McMaster Children`s Hospital (CND)
How can I help my children with their grief?
Description: This twelve page pdf is sympathetic to the situation parents and all adults face in helping children, adolescents and teens deal with death. There are helpful tips on the right language to use and information on children’s developmental stages in relation to bereavement in order to respond with care and understanding.
Mount Sinai Hospital: Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care (CDN)
Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Program resources supporting grieving students in schools
Description: Brief user friendly monographs are posted as tools for school professionals to support grieving students. These document are written in lay terms and are listed by topic.
National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement: Coalition to Support Grieving Students (US)
Grieving Students (modules for school personnel)
Description: An extremely comprehensive site. Strategies for having conversations, tips for ‘what not to say’ and how to encourage peer support, age appropriate developmental and culturally sensitive considerations are provided. Through this resource educators can access practical information such advice for funeral attendance, how to support students suffering secondary and cumulative losses, and strategies for supporting a student’s transition back into a school setting after a loss. Educators are provided with insight into the important role social media plays in bereavement with students in our digital age. This valuable resource can prepare staff for the impact of grief on learning, the experience of guilt, embarrassment or shame students may experience, and the complexity of grief triggers in a classroom setting.
Waterloo Region Hospice professional staff can assist schools and system professionals to deliver bereavement support. We can provide consultation on a needs basis to school staff as well as offer students’ access to our bereavement support groups or individual counseling.
Because we recognize the challenges that children and teens and their families face when living with someone with a life-threatening illness or when they have experienced the loss of a loved one, we offer a safe and warm environment for children and teens and their families to explore their feelings surrounding serious illness and grief.
Professional Individual/Family Counseling: (before and after an expected death)
Our professional counselors offer counseling services to children/teens and their families who are affected by a life-threatening illness or who have experienced the death of a loved one.
Kids Can Cope Workshops: (before an expected death)
We offer monthly interactive workshops for children/teens and their family members who are living with someone who has a life-threatening illness. Group discussions and activities involving expressive art therapy, provide children and families with coping tools to help reduce stress and encourage conversation.
Children/Teen Bereavement Support Group: (after a death)
We offer a safe and creative environment for children aged 4-18, to explore their feelings around loss and provide an opportunity to connect with other children/teens who are dealing with similar losses. Participants are divided in groups by age, and qualified therapists and specially trained volunteers help them discover positive coping mechanisms.
Friends & Relatives Support Group
We offer a professionally facilitated support group for caregivers and friends to share experiences and learn coping skills that help them to provide quality care while maintaining a sense of well-being.
Parenting Through Grief Support Group
Offered in conjunction with the Children’s Bereavement Support Group (ages 5 – 13), this support program addresses topics related to personal grief, parenting through loss, and helping children cope with their grief.
Hospice has an extensive lending library of books (including a large selection of children’s books) on topics relating to coping with serious illness, death and bereavement. Books can be borrowed for a three-week period. A listing of the library collection can be accessed through the Hospice website.
If you are aware that a student or family is dealing with an end-of-life situation or has experienced a loss and would benefit from additional support, you may make a referral to Hospice Waterloo Region.
In a school setting:
If you are working with a parent:
AT HOSPICE WATERLOO REGION we can be reached by: