Children affected by the death in the school community – information for parents

Updated: 25/08/16

A death in the school community

Whether it was a close friend, a beloved member of staff, or maybe just someone they knew – you may be surprised how children and young people are affected by a death in the school community.

As parents, it can be quite hard to see your children suffering and it seems that there is little we can do. Please check out our top tips – there is quite a lot you can do. Talk to your children – good communication is key.

A death of someone their own age, or their parents’ age, can sometimes get children to think about their own lives, their own families. Children may have questions such as ‘could it happen to me?’ or ‘could it happen to you?’. We will need to try and reassure children that only few people die when they are young, and most people live into their 70’s, 80’s or even 90’s. Talk to them that it is most likely that they, and you as parents, will be there for a very long time to come.

Teenagers may start thinking about their own life, and have questions about their purpose in life. Try and be there for them, and talk with them about your thoughts, dreams and hopes for them, and your own view of life, whether this is relating to your own religious beliefs, or other values you hold. Give them an opportunity to express their worries, acknowledge those, but also try and provide a sense of continuity, safety and routine for them.

Children and young people are affected in different ways, many children will have problems with sleep, concentration, wanting to do things. But over time this should get better, and whilst you might still see that they are affected by the death, they should also start getting back to their usual routine and engage again in their usual activities, have happy times and spend time with their friends.

If you are concerned about your child, please speak to your child’s school. For bereavement support, you can contact Nelson’s Journey. You can also access support via Point 1. Point-1 is a service from Ormiston Families providing assessment and support by professionals for children and young people who are experiencing mental health and emotional problems, please see this link for further information.