Providing Support Over Time
“Teachers don’t understand that even though it was a long time ago, it’s still really hard for me.” (Student)
Children don’t get over grief in a fixed amount of time. Feelings of sadness and grief may be re-visited at each birthday or holiday, during important transitions such as graduations, or because of grief triggers that arise years after the loss. This module explains how educators and schools can offer support over time that helps students make sense of their experiences and stay productive in their academic, social and family life.
Some adults believe children will adjust to a major loss after about a year. In fact, the death of a parent, sibling, close friend or relative can have an impact that lasts a lifetime. School professionals, individually and as a team, are in an excellent position to provide support to grieving students over time. Students may actually see them as more approachable than grief-stricken family members.
It is common for students to have trouble concentrating and experience a drop in academic performance for some time after a major loss. Often, the second year after a death is even more challenging than the first because the loss feels more definite and permanent. Transitions and special events may bring up feelings of loss again.
Teachers can make adjustments to assignments to help students stay on course academically. They can offer support and understanding that model for children ways they can talk with adult family members. School professionals can also offer referrals for students and their families when needed.
View the video by chapters:
The goal and function of supportive intervention in schools
The long-term nature and implications of grief