Tom Demaria: Grief in the Classroom

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How can teachers and staff help children in school who are grieving? That’s the question Dr. Gloria Horsley has for Dr. Tom Demaria. The work of grief begins in schools and should always start in the classroom. He began working with superintendents, school boards, and school psychologists to come up with principles everyone can follow in the classroom. If you wait until a child gets symptoms of trauma, it can be too late. A lot of teachers don’t know what to say or how to say it. Talking about death isn’t easy for anyone, and many teachers aren’t prepared.

Teachers should know there are many national projects that can help them work with bereaved children. If you want to help get grief training into the schools, you can start with www.grievingstudents.org, which is maintained by Scholastic. Here, you’ll find videos and handouts that are designed for schools as a self-contained program.

Education about Grief

According to Demaria, teachers should know that grief happens all the time. Kids grieve from going to school, moving, losing a parent, after the death of a pet, and in many other circumstances. However, you have it within your resources to help them. Make sure you aren’t hurting the child, but instead lightening the burden. There are many things the community, parents, and teachers can do—especially if they band together.

When preparing a teacher to go into a classroom, grief training is rarely part of the program. Instead, it’s seen as something that should be handled at home, but this can cause devastating results. Children see school as a safe place with routine, and that’s why many are eager to return to school after a loss. If you know a child who’s grieving, work with their school to help support them.

 

Gloria Horsley

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Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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