Chapter 3: After a student’s death


What the educator says
Shane Dilka, resource/learning support teacher, talks about contacting families to let them know a student has died.(3:22)Video transcript

“I knew I would likely cry when I was telling the students that Nigel had died the night before, so I let them know that I had sad news to share, and that I may cry as I’m doing so, but that I’m okay and it’s natural for me to be sad right now. I was conscious of modeling a healthy and authentic grief response for them”.  - Teacher

The death of a student affects your entire school community.

To help everyone integrate a student’s death into their lives in the healthiest way possible, it’s important to create a caring and supportive environment throughout your school, and to follow a carefully considered communication plan.

One of the challenges of supporting your school community at these times is balancing the differing needs among the students and staff. Some students or staff will be profoundly grieving and will want the school to focus on the loss, providing school-wide opportunities to honour the student who died. Others will want the school to function as usual, without interruption to classes and other routines. 

Click on each of the arrows to see just how many people in your school community are affected by the student’s death.


Keep in mind that some of your more vulnerable students may be particularly affected by the death, even if they didn’t have a relationship with the student who died.


Note to Administrators: For additional information on informing staff and students of a death, see Module 4 – Considerations for Administrators.