Grief Triggers

“When my dad died, some schoolwork, mostly history or reading, a story about death or a history section about war, it really, it really, make it hard to kind of focus on it. ‘Cause in the back of your mind you’re always thinking, what actually happened, what happened to my dad.” (Student)

Grief triggers are sudden reminders of a person who has died. They elicit powerful emotional responses in grieving children. They are especially common in the first few months after a death, but may occur at any time. This module describes how to respond to grief triggers in a school setting in ways that assist a grieving student and create a supportive environment appreciated by all students. The module also offers guidance on how to plan and introduce lessons on topics that might elicit triggers. These steps help minimize distress and maximize support for grieving children.

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View the video by chapters:

What grief triggers are and why they can be distressing

How to anticipate and minimize the impact of grief triggers on grieving students

For more information on supporting grieving children, refer to The Grieving Student: A Guide for Schools by David Schonfeld and Marcia Quackenbush.