Chapter 1: Recognizing student grief

More about grief

What the parent says
Jenny talks about her daughter Mae's grief.(3:22)Video transcript
What the grief expert says
Andrea Warnick, registered psychotherapist, talks about teaching students about grief. (3:22)Video transcript

“I felt that I would never stop crying and that my life would never be the same again. And the thought that I may cry at school horrified me.” - Student

The circumstances around a death will affect how it’s grieved. Your students may be anticipating a death due to illness; or they may be shocked by a sudden or traumatic death, such as a suicide or drowning. They may be confronted by multiple deaths resulting from drug overdoses or driving accidents. 

It’s important to remember that there is no ‘right way’ to grieve. The way grief is experienced and expressed and how long it lasts is unique to each person and is influenced by a number of factors. These include:

  • Personality 
  • Relationship with the person who died 
  • Cause of death
  • Previous grief experience 

Understanding the factors that influence the grieving process can help you to identify students who may be more ‘at risk’ or vulnerable and to tailor your support strategies to their needs.

Many events or experiences aside from death can lead to a student’s grief. 

Click on each arrow to view different examples.

In general, grief is not well understood in our society. This is amplified for children’s grief.  There are many misconceptions about children’s grief that can negatively impact a child’s grief now and in the future. 

Click on the box below to view what some of those misconceptions are.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea that adults should protect children from talking and thinking about death. Many parents and adults don’t understand the importance of openness, honesty, and acknowledgement of dying, death, and grief with their child and their child’s community and support network. These modules will assist you to support families in acquiring knowledge to assist their child.  Your role as an educator is an important one as you play a role in shaping the grief experience of the whole family.