Moving Through Grief with Grace and Dignity the Way Nature Intended
In response to the following question, we have prepared a brief page of key points that will be helpful in being supportive for children who have experienced a grief event of significance to them.
For more in depth support please contact us directly.
Question: “As a classroom teacher, how do I deal with a child who has experienced a traumatic loss in their life? And, how do I deal with the class as a whole?
The number one communication guideline is to be authentic, truthful, and to honor the experience of the child and the concerns of others in class. Linguistically align with the reality of the child long enough for them to feel heard and understood, without giving advice or trying to “fix it.”
Qualities and states of being that are useful and powerful for you to internalize and demonstrate:
|Compassion (not pity)||Strength||Courage|
Comfortableness in talking about difficult subjects – Matter of fact with caring.
Appropriate responses will differ depending on the age of the child and the circumstances surrounding their loss. Some children may want to talk; others just want to know that being in your classroom is safe. The child’s moods will shift as they process their grief event, there is no one right way. Know that as the teacher, your job is balance the needs of the individual child while keeping a focus on what is to be learned in your classroom that day.
Often, finding metaphors or teaching stories that will support the points you want to convey to all of the students can be helpful. The attention is diverted to the group and away from the child in grief.
Create an opportunity to take the child aside and privately ask them what way they want to best be supported by you, the teacher. Again, age appropriate.
Suggestions of themes that work: “Would you like to talk about what happened now, or later?”
“I can only imagine what you might be feeling, and I want you to know that I care about you.”
“This is a safe place for you to share what you are thinking about when you are ready.” “It is Ok for you to feel your feelings. Just do as much classwork as you can for today.”
What not to say: “I know just what you feel.” “You must really be sad.” “Time will heal.” “You should be over this by now.” “Just be grateful for what you have – it could have been worse.”
“Grow up, you’re a big girl or boy now.” “Are you still bothered by that? You should be over it already.” (Sadly, these are actual quotes from real situations!)
As children move through their developmental stages, grief will be processed differently. It does take time and surrounding support to come to a place of understanding.
Written by: Marilyn and Al Sargent – 42 Cascada, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 310-729-5664 cell
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