CI: Bereavement and Trauma

Updated: 16/04/20

Bereaved children in particular are affected by the current situation. There will also be newly bereaved children, who will not be able to access support in the usual way from their wider community, including their schools.

We are continuing to offer advice and support in relation to bereavement issues. We continue to work with our partners in Norfolk to ensure the best possible support to bereaved children.

In Norfolk, Nelson’s Journey are offering support and advice to families, and they can be contacted in the usual way. We are also encouraging families to let their schools know if a family member has died.

You may also be concerned about a death in your school community. We will continue to provide support and advice, albeit most likely through digital means. Please get in touch if you need anything:

Losing a loved one in this time of physical distancing can lead to disenfranchised grief. Doka defines this ‘as grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned’ (Doka, 1989).

In the current situation, social support systems do not function in the same way as usual. Children are not at school, and may not communicate regularly with trusted adults (outside of their immediate family) and friends. When they return to school in several weeks or even months, things will be very different.

Children may not take part in funerals during this period as numbers are very much restricted, and opportunities to say good-bye may be limited.

Usually, within the school there seems to be a community spirit that brings everyone together, aided by the structures and relationships within the school. In the current situation, this is missing.

Without opportunities the grieving process may be hindered and potentially lead to difficulties in resolving the death.

If you hear about a family bereavement of a child in your school, please do make contact with the family. Talk about what services are available, and how the child can access support. Discuss social support as well, how does the child stay in touch with their friends, do they need any support with talking to their friends about their bereavement? You can pass on details for local and national bereavement charities and helplines.

Critical Incidents

You may also be concerned about a critical incident in your school community. Whilst normal school is not taking place, you may still have some children attending. If you are experiencing a death in the school community, you are likely to need to take different action from usual. You may be asking parents/carers to talk to their children about a death. You may need to telephone parents/carers of children who are most affected/vulnerable. We will be able to provide advice and support depending on your specific situation. Members of the critical incident team continue to be available to provide support and advice, talking to the leadership team, as well as members of the school community, including parents/carers and children or young people where needed.

If you would like any additional advice, please do get in touch:


Supporting bereaved children returning to school

Many children and young people will have experienced bereavement during this time period, and this will have brought some unique issues. Please click here for further information.

For further information and good practice guidelines please see our advice, you will need to log in to access the sample policy for schools:

Supporting children’s emotional needs whilst keeping to distancing rules

This may well provide a bit of a challenge for pastoral/support staff who are trying to support children. To prevent links between groups/bubbles, they are asked to keep to social distancing rules. Please see for some practical ideas for supporting children.

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