Resources to Address Grief in Schools

Research shows seven out of 10 teachers have a student affected by loss in their classroom. We know that the challenges associated with grief can lead to missed school days, a loss of concentration, and falling behind in school work.

The website www.GrievingStudents.org offers resources produced by the Coalition to Support Grieving Students to help educators and parents support students as they cope with loss. Too many schools fail to properly assist grieving students, and school staff is often so concerned with saying the wrong thing that they may not say anything at all.

To help remedy the problem, the Coalition to Support Grieving Students launched the website that includes online professional-development modules—created in consultation with Dr. David Schonfeld and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement—that address subjects like classroom discussions, consultation between educators to plan for re-entry to school, funeral attendance, and the psychology of child grief. It’s the culmination of several years of work to develop resources to help educators understand and address student bereavement.

Stress is bad for your health!A compassionate response and a supportive environment for students to express and work through their grief can go a long way in preventing long-term damage to the student’s educational progress and enhancing their social and emotional well-being.

Every adult in the school building can play a role in this supportive environment. Therefore, all school personnel should be given the proper tools and training to address these needs and support their students. NEA Healthy Futures seeks to support NEA members and the education community with the resources to address these difficult yet common classroom situations.

The coalition’s resources bring greater awareness to the unique needs of the grieving student and all affected by loss. School personnel will be empowered to support students if they are given the proper resources to respond appropriately in times of grief and crisis. This includes alleviating the stress of feeling helpless, unsure of what to say or how to help. Education Week did an excellent piece on the launch event and the coalition’s resources.

NEA Healthy Futures will continue to disseminate this information and build awareness of these valuable resources. Please visit www.GrievingStudents.org and share these resources with your colleagues and fellow educators. Join the online conversation at #GrievingStudents #GriefCoalition

Feel free to contact us at info@neahealthyfutures.org if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

filed under: Mental Health

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Libby Nealis

Written by Libby Nealis

Libby Nealis is a senior program coordinator at NEA Healthy Futures. She is passionate about addressing children’s mental health and behavioral needs as an effective means of improving student academic achievement and potential for life success. She closely follows federal education and mental health policy, and increases awareness and support for services that promote social-emotional development and resilience in youth. When she’s not juggling her work and her own three children, she sings in a progressive rock cover band with neighbors and fellow PTA parents.

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