As I continue to grow in my profession, one thing I have learned is: Children Grieve Differently than adults do. I have seen my fair share of devastating losses with the children in my schools (current and past). It is not unusual to see children crying and then want to go play a few minutes later. Children still pass through the stages of grief just as adults do. However, children will look different. Adults can grieve for a long hard time, whereas children can go through cycles or spurts. Another aspect to remember is that children will grieve as they grow. Years later, a child may miss a loved one during holidays or during a family time that triggers loss.
Contacting the Family
Learning to speak to families during a time of loss is difficult. This never gets easier, but my hope is that I continue to grow with this process. Speaking to families during their grieving time can be challenging and it is easy to feel as though "we never say the right things." A pastor friend always seems to know what to say and what to do. I have learned the most from him.
Some helpful questions and statements.
It is always important to express your condolences to the family. Let them know that you are sorry for their loss. Ask them, what can you currently do to help the family? Let them know that your staff would like to bring food. Ask them where the family is gathering. It is also helpful if you can gather information about the funeral services.
As soon as you are aware of a loss that affects a student, it is important for you to gather their belongings. These are items that the family will want to keep and it is important for you to secure those possessions from their desk or locker, so they do not go missing. These are cherished items for grieving family members.
I am not an expert, but I am always seeking information to help myself grow as a school counselor. I hope you can take a little piece away from this post to help you with future grief counseling.