Information for Teachers
Teachers are in the unique (and difficult) situation to help children in their classroom who are suffering from loss. Your school may be located in a town close enough to access the services of Pathfinders or other grieving children's program. If your local area does not have a support program, we are hopeful the information on this website will be helpful. We encourage you to share this website with parents/caregivers and their grieving children. Many families have never participated in a support group and are assured that it is not counseling.
Children grieve differently than adults:
- Children experience grief, as do adults, with minds, bodies and spirits. Children experience physical symptoms as well as rapid changes in thoughts and feelings.
- Children may not be able to put words to their grief. They may still be learning to name and describe their feelings; THEREFORE, children grieve through their SOCIAL INTERACTIONS and in their PLAY.
- Children grieve in "spurts and stops". A child who is grieving can quickly change from being sad, angry or frustrated to wanting to play.
- The child's developmental age and maturity, the type of loss and previous experience with loss are all factors that influence how a child grieves.
- Sometimes children seem unaffected by grief to adults because they do not fully understand the permanence of a loss or its meaning to them. When children feel overwhelmed by intense feelings, they may naturally make their world safe by distancing themselves physically or emotionally by pretending or by denying the reality of the loss.
- Children are sensitive about being different. Grief and the intense feelings that go along with it may make children feel different and isolated from their friends.
- Children are quick to blame themselves and think their thoughts or wishes about someone made them die (magical thinking). They also think they could have done something to prevent the death. Often times children will not disclose their feelings of self-blame.
Teachers and Professionals Recommended Readings
- Baxter, Grant and Stuart, Wendy. Death and the Adolescent. A Resource Handbook for Bereavement Support Groups in Schools. University of Toronto Press, 1999.
- The Dougy Center. Helping the Grieving Student: A Guide for Teachers. USA: The Dougy Center for Grieving Children,1998.
- The Dougy Center. When Death Impacts Your School: A Guide for School Administrators. The Dougy Center for Grieving Children, 2000.
- Eberling, C. and Eberling, D. When Grief Comes to School. Bloomington Educational Enterprises, 1991.
- Gilko-Braden, M. Grief Comes to Class. NE: Centering Corporation, 1992.
- Hospice of Lancaster County. A Teacher’s Guide to the Grieving Student. Printed by the Hospice of Lancaster County, 1995..
- Lagorio, LCSW, Jeanne. Life Cycles: Activities for Helping Children Live With Daily Change and Loss. Empowerment in Action, 1993.
- SandCastles. Grief Support Program for Children and Families. Forever Changed: Children and Grief. Henry Ford Health System, 2000.
- Seibert, D., Drolet, J., and Fetro, J. Helping Children Live with Death and Loss. Southern Illinois University Press, 2003.
- Sutherland, Sandra. Good Grief: Helping Groups of Children When A Friend Dies. Baker and Taylor, 1985.
- Whitehouse, E., Pudney, W. A Volcano in my Tummy. Canada: New Society Publishers, 1996.