Chapter 4: Planning for when a student is dying


What the educator says
Shane Dilka, resource/learning support teacher, shares advice for schools dealing with dying and death.(3:22)Video transcript

“Her teacher and the class really tried hard to stay in touch with her during her illness, but I still don’t think the students were fully prepared for when she actually did die”. – Principal

Whether a student with a life-limiting illness does or doesn’t continue to attend school, many people within the school community will be significantly grieving the student’s illness or condition; and these feelings will be heightened upon learning that the student will die. 

You should plan how to best support both the family and the rest of the school community. Once the family has confirmed that their child is dying, consult with them as to what information will be shared with staff, students, and their parents.

Staff will need to be supported in their own grief, as well as in their efforts to support students in the classroom. Students’ families can be informed by email that there is a student with a life-limiting illness in your school, and how their children are being supported by your staff.  If there are siblings in the school, either you or a designated contact person should work closely with them and their family to ensure that they feel well-supported in the school environment. 

This chapter will provide you with tips and best practices to guide you through this situation.

See also:For additional information, see Module 3 – Support for Student Deaths, Chapter 2 -- Preparing for a student’s death.