Supporting Grieving Students in Schools: Training Module - 2

Supporting Grieving Students in Schools: Training Module - 2 Supporting the Grieving Student This module will help school staff understand how to support the grieving student through presentations about 1. Barriers children and school staff face 2. How to initiate a conversation and what to say 3. How to act with a grieving child 4. Goals of support with a grieving child 5. Checking a childs understanding of death 6. Cultural sensitivity 7. Supporting children with guilt and shame 8. Offering academic support proactively 9. Preparing students to manage grief triggers

10. Providing support over time 11. Supporting transition between grades and schools Barriers for Children in Talking About Loss Children may Conclude they have done something wrong by talking about death and avoid raising the subject again Hold in their feelings as a way to support their family

Try to look fine and reassure family they are okay when they really need support Not fully understand death and loss Have problems expressing their complicated feelings

Feel overwhelmed by the experience and their strong feelings Initiating the Conversation Express concern Limit personal sharing Be genuine Offer practical advice Invite the conversation

Offer reassurance Listen and observe Maintain contact What not to say Dont Say This I know just what youre going through. You must be incredibly angry. Say this instead Can you tell me more about what this has

been like for you? Most people have strong feelings when something like this happens to them. What has this been like for you? This is hard. But its important to remember the good things in life, too. What kinds of memories do you have about the person who died? At least hes no longer in pain. What sorts of things have you been

thinking about since your loved one died? Dont Say this Say this instead I lost both my parents when I was your age. Tell me more about what this has been like for you. Youll need to be strong now for your family. Its important to get a grip on your

feelings. How is your family doing? What kinds of concerns do you have about them? My dog died last week. I know how you must be feeling. I know how Ive felt when someone I loved died, but I dont really know how youre feeling. Can you tell me something about what this has been like for you? How to Act

Be present and authentic Listen more, talk less Avoid trying to cheer up students or their families Accept expressions of emotion Show empathy Dont be afraid to show emotions Step in to stop harmful behaviors when safety Goals of Support Decrease the sense of isolation

Increase academic function Increase the likelihood children will talk with their families Increase the likelihood children will talk with and receive support from their peers

Identify problems in the family Connect with students on something of immense importance Checking a Childs Understanding of Death Start by asking children what they understand about death Give them simple, direct and developmentally-appropriate explanations Ask them to explain back to you what they understand

Correct any misunderstandings or misconceptions. Cultural Sensitivity Remember that the fundamental experience of grief is universal Ask questions Ask openly when you are unsure what would be most helpful for a family or individual Watch out for assumptions Be empathetic, thoughtful and sensitive Supporting Children with Guilt and Shame Discuss guilt and shame explicitly with grieving children

Ask about the kinds of thoughts, questions, or feelings they have been having Describe the kinds of reactions related to guilt and shame that people often have Normalize the experience of guilt and shame while creating a safe environment Talk to a school mental health professional if these emotions are persistent or causing marked distress Offer Academic Support Proactively Change an assignment Change the focus or timing of a lesson Reschedule or adapt tests E



P R P E E Preparing Students to Manage Grief Triggers Identify a safe space or location where the student can go Provide the child with the name of an adult he or she can see when feeling upset or wishing to talk Set up procedures that allow the student to obtain support Allow the child to call a parent or family member Give permission and encouragement for the child to speak with other school staff

Offer private time to talk over feelings, questions, or other concerns Anticipate & Minimize Triggers Expect that triggers may occur around holidays, Mothers Day and Fathers Day, the childs birthday, the birthday of the deceased, or the anniversary of the persons death Introduce class activities in a way that acknowledges absences and offers alternatives Make an effort to reach out to grieving students at school events where the absence of a loved one may be especially noticeable Introduce subjects such as serious illness,

accidental death, war, or violence with sensitivity Providing Support Over Time Supporting Transitions With the students knowledge and the familys permission, school professionals can communicate the students needs and describe strategies that have been effective in providing support The team can explore ways to provide some constancy in the support the student receives The school team can also help the family

identify ways to prepare the new school to best support their child This presentation was developed by David Schonfeld, M.D., University of Southern California Thomas Demaria, Ph.D., Long Island University C.W. Post Campus Marcia Quackenbush, M.S., M.F.T., M.C.H.E.S. With the support of members of the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement Coalition to Support Grieving Students For further information

Toll Free: 877-53-NCSCB (877-536-2722) * Six topic sections contain 2 - 4 video modules with each video accompanied by downloadable handouts that summarize the major points covered. * Links to additional resources for schools and families Schonfeld, D., and M. Quackenbush. After a Loved One DiesHow Children Grieve and How Parents and Other Adults Can Support Them. New York, NY: New York Life Foundation, 2009. Art Credits William T. Demaria [email protected] Module 2 slide 8, 22 Daniel Pollera Module 2 slides 9, 17

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