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Supporting your child through grief

30 July 2021

When tragedy strikes within a school community, the Department for Education will be on-site to provide psychological support to students and staff who need it.  

We provide support to teachers so they know what to expect when children are grieving and how they can respond and support them in the classroom. Our psychologists can be available to meet with parents to discuss any concerns they have about their child and how to support them at home.  

We also offer advice on psychological first aid for students, which includes: 

  • Listening, validating and normalising a child’s emotional reaction as they process grief and loss 
  • Talking about their coping strategies 
  • Helping them to identify support people in their home and school lives 
  • Providing feedback to parents and the school. 

But what happens if your child isn’t at school when the psychologists are visiting? Or if it takes a bit longer for them to come to terms with what’s happened?  

The department is guided by the school around the support needs of students, and will always return if there is a need.   

This may include referring them to an external service with assistance from parents and the school.  

If you think your child needs a bit of help getting through a tough time, reaching out to your teacher is a good first step.  

There are also things you can do at home to help your child through challenging times.  

Everybody responds differently to grief. It’s important to be available and let your child know you care and will be there for them. Parents are often the best people to talk about grief and support their child through grief as they have an existing nurturing relationship.   

  • Maintain normal structure and routine 
  • Let your child know you’re there for them when they need to talk 
  • Be prepared for lots of questions, and to talk about death and dying 
  • Remember it’s okay not to have all the answers. 

Young people take their cues from adults, so it’s important to let them know it is ok to talk, its ok to cry, its ok to get angry, it is also ok to be happy and experience joy. 

Remember support is always available to our students, and to parents if they need some guidance.