Information for teachers, teaching assistants, learning support assistants, headteachers, education welfare officers and other adults working in schools

Children mature at different rates and their understanding and responses to bereavement are likely to be based as much on their experience of life as on their chronological age.

It is important to remember that children will be grieving for life and the loss will always be with them.  Children may need to look again at the details surrounding the death of an important person in their lives as they grow older. Feelings they had when young will be different several years further on as their understanding matures and the meaning of the death changes as they move through life. This is not unresolved grief but the experience of different feelings later in life, often connected to major life events such as switching classes, moving up to senior school or other significant change. 

People are often at a loss as to know what to say or do to help a child who has been bereaved by the death of someone important to them. Every situation is different, and children will be affected to a greater or lesser degree, dependent on the circumstances of the death and the nature of the relationship they had with the person who has died.

Most grieving children do not need a ‘bereavement expert’ they need people who care. Schools, just by carrying on with their usual day-to-day activities while being aware of the bereavement, can do a huge amount to support a grieving pupil.