6 Tips for Teachers of Grieving Students

  • Acknowledge the death quickly
  • Provide an environment where the children feel comfortable in discussing his or her thoughts and feelings about the death.
  • Prepare the class for the return of a bereaved child by discussing what to say and what not to say.
  • Have the class write and discuss a condolence note.
  • Dedicate an issue of the school newspaper to the family.
  • Help prepare your classes for deaths that may happen in the future by providing learning opportunities.  Some possibilities are:
    • In current events discuss a death currently in the news and talk about how that death might impact the family and friends of the deceased.  This is a good opportunity to introduce concepts of grief and bereavement.
    • Include words such as death, dying, grief, mourning and bereavement, as appropriate on vocabulary lists.
    • Talk about life spans and how they differ.
    • In science, discuss the life cycle of plans and animals.  Use the seasons in these examples.
    • Invite the school nurse to come and speak of the differences between terminal and non-terminal illness.
    • Discuss cultural and religious differences in funerals and other rituals.