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Bereavement

To nurture the skills of resilience is key to providing young people with the ability to cope with stress, adversity, failure and challenges. Resilience is evident when young people have a greater ability to “bounce back” when faced with difficulties and achieve positive outcomes.

Resilience empowers the individual to recognise that grieving is a natural process, and people grieve at their own pace and in their own way. It allows the individual to recognise that they are not responsible or to blame for the death.

The loss of someone close through death is a traumatic and painful event for the majority of people. For many children and young people the death of a parent, sibling, friend or relative can be extremely difficult because of the child’s inability to understand and articulate their feelings. Similarly young people who have been bereaved can find the emotions that they are experiencing to be frighteningly intense.

Some of the common responses to death and bereavement which children and young people can experience include anger, regression and loss of skills, and high-risk behaviours.

Return to School

There is no set time prescribed for when a bereaved child or young person should return to school following the death of someone close. The length of absence will depend on the wishes and cultural beliefs of the family, the child / young person’s preparedness to return to school and the school’s policy. Increasingly, schools themselves are recommending an immediate return for pupils. If a bereaved child or young person has been absent from school for a long period of time this can increase their anxieties and cause difficulties readjusting to school life.

By creating a clear and robust policy the school can provide a framework for school staff members to address death and the consequences of death.

When creating a bereavement Policy schools may want to think about:-

  • Designated, named members of the school staff who will provide support to bereaved children and young people in the event of a death.
  • How to inform students / colleagues about a death and what to do when you are required to tell a student that someone close to them has died.
  • What support will be offered to staff / students if they have been bereaved.
  • What do in the case of a crisis or disaster situation on school premises or on a school trip.
  • How to recognise common symptoms and behaviours associated with grief.
  • The contact details of local and national support agencies specialising in bereavement.
  • How to deal with media interest surrounding a death and designating two / three members of staff to act as media coordinators.

 

 

It is important that the staff members appointed to provide support to bereaved children and young people have received the appropriate training beforehand and are supported by senior colleagues when offering such support.

It might be useful for the school to stock bereavement resource packs containing information for children and young people of all ages to use when they have been bereaved.

Source – Cruse

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