Heading Back to School and Grief

Posted on August 16, 2016

Amidst the whirlwind of school supply shopping and summer vacations, the beginning of school is creeping up quickly. If your family has recently experienced a close loss, children may begin to feel the death more personally as school starts.

No matter their age, your child will be dealing with grief, but possibly in a wildly different way than yourself. There is no right or wrong way for them to be grieving; however, you may want to prepare your child as they head back to school in this wave of new grief. Here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Notify the school—your child’s teacher(s), administrators, and counselor.

    You are going to want the people who teach and look after your child daily to be aware of the situation. With a new teacher, they will likely not understand how your child normally behaves, so filling in their day-to-day teacher on their typical behavior can help them identify other issues later down the road. Also, notifying the school might prevent accidental comments or questions about the loved one that has passed.

    Schools are sensitive to children’s needs—it is nice to inform administrators so they can pass along pertinent information to other teachers in a discreet way. Getting in touch with the counselor is also an excellent idea. The counselor can then check on your child periodically and make sure they are doing okay.

  2. Talk with them about how their peers may react.
    As classes begin, some of your child’s classmates may know about the death. They might have questions or make insensitive comments without realizing it. You can help prepare your child for these questions by practicing how to answer them at home. Remind them that if they ever feel uncomfortable to tell a teacher or administrator.  

  3. Watch for warning signs.
    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the death may affect how your child behaves at school—it’s important to keep an eye on any warning signs that may require intervention, such as excessive anger, poor grades, or withdrawing from usual social activities. 

    If there comes a point where you feel that how your child is acting is out of character, contact the school counselor and they may be able to help you contact a professional outside of the school. There is nothing wrong with getting your child help if you feel they need it!

For more tips and information, this material was gathered from, “What’s Your Grief?”


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