Chapter 3: When a family member has died

When your student returns to school

What the parent says
Jenny talks about Mae's return to school after an extended absense through Phoebe's illness and death. (3:22)Video transcript
What the educator says
Sue Massaad, elementary school principal, talks about the great support Mae received from her classmates.(3:22)
Sue Massaad, elementary school principal, talks about the opportunity for tragedy to foster a caring community.(3:22)Video transcript

“I didn’t want anyone to know and I definitely didn’t want to talk to anybody about it. I just wanted to play basketball all the time. I didn’t have to talk or think when I was playing”. – Student

Many students feel embarrassed by crying or expressing other big feelings at school, and as a result may try to avoid initial conversations about the death. This tends to be particularly heightened for students in the early days and weeks following a death when students may be feeling particularly self-conscious and vulnerable. 

Give thought to who else might be able to provide additional support to your student (e.g., parents, older siblings, outside counsellors). Consider whether there are any complicating factors that might affect your student’s grief (e.g., previous deaths or losses; mental health issues; developmental challenges).