The death of a student can be traumatic for both school staff and pupils. A student’s death can unnerve other pupils and challenge any feelings of security they might have felt prior to the death.
It is likely that many of the students will have questions and will want to know details relating to the death. Our School staff should endeavour to answer all questions in an open and honest manner, using language that is appropriate to the students’ age and level of understanding.
Any specialist help school staff believe would benefit the young person will need to be discussed with their family before any referral is made.
For the majority of children or young people whose life has been turned upside down the routines of school life can give a sense of normality. Everything else may have fallen apart but school and the people within it are still there, offering a sense of security and continuity.
How Adolescents and teenagers deal with grief
At this stage of development, young people are developing their own ideas about who they are and what is important to them in their lives. They are more aware of their future. Death may cause them to reflect on the meaning and purpose of life, or they may not want to reflect, and hide their feelings. As adults our job is to let them know that we are there if they need to talk, or that we can find someone else to help if necessary. Although the grieving process at this age is much like adults, teenagers are still developing emotionally, and need support. By now young people are much more aware of the finality of death, and the impact that the death has had on them. The death of someone important may make them feel different, at the very time that they want to be the same as everyone else. They are aware of the longer term impact of their loss, when future milestones will not be shared with the person who has died. Relationships with others are becoming increasingly important, and any loss can lead to feelings of anger or severe distress.