Teachers often have to deal with the special needs of children who are dealing with a bereavement, especially if the child(ren) do not show obvious signs of distress.

It may be best to tell pupils of the death of a member of staff or pupil, just before the end of the day so that they can be comforted quickly by their parents. It may be possible for you to telephone parents and ask them to tell the pupil. If it is not possible to prevent pupils knowing earlier in the day, it might be a good idea to provide a quiet room staffed by someone who is prepared to listen and comfort. An upset pupil may prefer to go there until they can go home.

The ELBs may have a form for you to complete which will be passed on to anyone who needs it, eg. physiotherapists, psychologist etc.

It is not always necessary to involve counsellors. Children should be given permission to cry, feel sad etc. They may simply need a sympathetic member of staff who will list and comfort. Sometimes it may be necessary for staff to get together for a while to get their own thoughts together before having to deal with pupil responses. Counsellors are only needed if children (or staff) are not able to deal with their grief.

If the deceased was a member of staff or a child some schools decide to have a celebration of the life of the person. This might include photographs and displays of his/her work and a chance for people to talk about the person, using speech and pictures. A lasting memorial which is often popular is the planting of a tree.

After the death of a child most parents would probably appreciate receiving all his/her work from school. Sometimes each pupil in a class may decide to contribute to a memory book in which they all write or draw their memories of the pupil or staff member.

Useful books might be:

Saying Goodbye to Greg by Christine Chapman (for KS1 and KS2) pub 2004 by Bible Reading Fellowship.
Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley, pub 2002 Collins
Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney, pub 2002, Continuum

Further Information

Child Bereavement Trust
Cruse Bereavement Care
Responding to Critical Incidents including Bereavement and Loss
Loosing the Life of a Loved One