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.