The following piece is from Erika Johnson, a school psychologist in Connecticut. I thought this was a fantastic post, and this is something you always need to have on hand should something happen.
Sadly, at some point, a school will have to deal with death. It could be a student, a faculty member, family members of all of those, or sometimes even both at the same time.
Each person and school reacts differently. If it is more frequent, you should be staying consistent with the school response, unless the family has specifically requested that activities not be had to draw attention to the situation.
If that’s not the case…. let the building heal!
It amazes me and frightens me when “leadership” turns a blind eye and does not really understand what’s going on when something of this magnitude happens. When you see cold and callous responses coming from administration, it’s evident that the administration has no true connection to the school.
Bottom line: you’re the person who is assigned to lead the building; quit hiding behind your office, get out of your ring of wanna-be administrators and kool-aid drinkers, and LEAD again. Quit being the talk of the town and the butt of all jokes. Wake up, and let those who need to grieve (appropriately) do so. I’m not advocating a school shut down and hours of dedication services be had. However, I am saying that not allowing anything to happen, when teachers are hurting and students are asking lots of questions, is downright stupid.
Schools aren’t just about academics; we are a people business. Tend to their needs.
It is with a heavy heart that I compiled a list of resources for working with students dealing with loss. My school community has experienced two losses in a very short amount of time. As we prepared for the return of two students following the loss of a parent, I was asked to compile resources to share with the staff and others who needed guidance. Additionally, we have a few students who we consider at-risk as they have experienced a significant loss recently and would need additional support.
Thankfully, I had the resources of the National Association of School Psychologists at my fingertips. It is an incredible resource and worth every penny spent on a membership. They have handouts, position statements, and information available on a wide range of topics at the click of the mouse.
- Death & Grief: Supporting Children and Youth
- Helping Children Cope with Loss, Death, and Grief: Tips for Teachers and Parents
- Death and Grief in the Family: Providing Support at School
- Death and Grief in the Family: Tips for Parents
- Books for Children Coping with Loss or Trauma
New York Life has developed resources for parents and educators working with children dealing with loss. I provided these to my administrator as well.
I hope that some of these resources are helpful in the case that you also have to support students during a time of loss and grief.
Until next thyme,