Chapter 6: Taking a proactive approach to student grief


students in classroom

“When Ian died (grade four student), I realized how little many of our students (and our staff including me) really understood about the impact of a death on our school community and the grieving process itself. That was when I decided to add the topic of death, dying and grief into some of our discussions. I wanted my students to feel more comfortable acknowledging and understanding their feelings and reactions and to be better prepared here at school if this happened again but also later in life”. – Teacher

Although the event of a student death does (by default) create opportunity for classroom discussions about illness, death, dying and grief, you may also want to consider proactively incorporating these topics into your curriculum and discussions as a regular practice. This chapter will explore reasons why doing this is beneficial to students and also introduce you to some basic grief education concepts.

In cases where the student is dying or has died, your information-sharing must first follow the wishes of the family of the student; but then it will be up to you to create opportunities for discussion and questions. You’ll have a valuable opportunity to model healthy ways to talk about dying and grief, as well as the many natural feelings that accompany these human experiences.