Grief and Loss
Grief is a universal experience, as it is a normal and natural response to a loss or change of any kind. The loss may be the death of a caregiver, a friend, other family member, or a family pet. Additionally, a life change may occur due to the experience of a natural disaster, loss of a home, moving into a new area, a family event such as a divorce or new marriage, or even the challenges related to a new diagnosis of a physical illness or disability.
Grief may not feel natural, in part, because we cannot necessarily control our emotions or other responses. There are many theories and models of grief that provide helpful frameworks for those going through the grief process. However, grief work is a unique experience that each person navigates in a different way.
Supporting Grieving Youth:
- Don't put a time limit on the process of grieving
- Listening or sitting with someone is enough sometimes- you don’t have to talk
- Make opportunities to share memories of the loss (person who has died): draw, paint, make a collage, write stories, poems, etc.
- Acknowledge the person's pain and distress whatever the loss - large or small
- Reassure the person that grief is a normal response to loss and there is no wrong or right way to grieve
- Provide a safe space; have a regular routine
- Give honest, adequate and appropriate information relative to the person’s age and understanding
- Acknowledge feelings and give support when the child is overwhelmed by feelings
- Be aware of the special or unique circumstances of the loss
- Be aware of your own grief and/or feeling of helplessness
A Death Within the School Community
- A death can affect a school community at various levels. Those affected directly or indirectly may include an individual student, teachers, other school staff, a class or student community and families. The experience of the death and associated grief will affect people in different ways.
- Death by suicide will affect each individual and community differently. Some people may appear obviously affected while others may not. Regardless of those directly affected, the suicide death of a student, teacher or family member will have an impact on the community as a whole.
- It is also important to be aware that the effect of bereavement can go well beyond the initial crisis period. For those most affected, grief can be
- Students, staff and families within the school community will each have unique responses, which will vary according to such factors as age, level of understanding, the person's relationship to the person who has died, as well as previous experiences of grief and bereavement.
Little Tree by Julie Bourla
A Quilt for Elizabeth by B. Tiffault
Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
The Happy Funeral by E. Bunting
I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
Emily’s Sadhappy Season by S. Lowden-Golightly
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Judith Viorst
Mustard by C. Graeber
A Taste of Blackberries by D. B. Smith
Other Resources for Parents/Guardians:
Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief
1520 W Poplar Avenue
Collierville, TN 38017
Services include grief counseling, grief support groups and grief camp programs for children, teens and adults. Bereavement services are free of charge and are made possible through individual donations and grants funded by the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation, The Kemmons Wilson Family, and various organizations and individuals.