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Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief

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Dr. Bonnie B. Shannon. Local District 6 School Site Crisis Team Training; 2-23-05 ... dreams, eat too much/too little, trouble paying attention; remember that normal ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief


1
Helping Students Cope with Loss, Death and Grief
  • Non-Therapeutic Intervention for the Classroom

2
Helping Elementary School Students
Developmental Phases
  • Ages 5-9 start comprehending finality of death
    (e.g., plane crashes)
  • Death happens to others, not them or their
    families
  • Cant necessarily differentiate between what they
    see on TV and what may happen in their community.

3
Classroom Education Process Elementary Grades
  • Fact Phase
  • Explain, per written information from
    principal/designee, what has occurred
    (earthquake, shooting, accident, etc.) factual,
    truthful information without causing fear.
  • Stay calm diffuse rumors.
  • Reinforce safety security.
  • Provide structure maintain class schedule for
    consistency/normalcy however, reduce class
    workload as needed proceed at slower
    pace/enjoyable lessons with less homework.

4
Classroom Education Process Elementary Grades,
Continued
  • Teaching Phase
  • Review the normal responses that people have
    subsequent to a traumatic event e.g., anxiety,
    fear, sleep problems, bad dreams, eat too
    much/too little, trouble paying attention
    remember that normal responses to trauma last
    about 2 months.
  • Encourage
  • students to talk to their parents or other caring
    adults about their feelings, to get plenty of
    sleep/exercise avoid sweets/snacking,
    caffeinated drinks, and TV.
  • students to maintain their regular friendships
    and that normal social activities (sports,
    watching a non-violent movie, having friends
    over) can take their minds off of the loss.
  • students who are worried about a friend or who
    are having a problem handling their feelings to
    talk to a school site crisis team member and/or a
    caring adult.

5
Classroom Education Process Elementary Grades,
Continued
  • Assessment Phase
  • Seeing their peers reactions to the loss may
    result in fears/anxiety about their own losses or
    fears of loss (e.g., military families, death of
    family member, other loss). Be alert to such
    students.
  • Assure students that, if they want to talk with
    someone about what they are feeling (e.g.,
    questions about death, grief experiences, etc.)
    as a result of the trauma, there are adults at
    the school whom they can see.

6
Classroom Education Process Elementary Grades,
Continued
  • Follow-Up Phase
  • Meet with principal/designee and report on
    students reactions to the traumatic event and
    their needs.
  • Inform him/her regarding those specific students
    who need to be seen/triaged by the local school
    site crisis team.

7
Helping Secondary School Students Developmental
Phases
  • Middle School
  • Have understanding of death as final event but
    may not grasp fully, especially when confronted
    by a barrage of media coverage
  • May experience, as a means of coping, a variety
    of feelings/emotions that may be expressed as
    acting out or self-injurious behavior.

8
Helping Secondary School Students Developmental
Phases
  • High School
  • Most teens understand death fully (e.g.,
    resulting from auto accident, illness, September
    11 disaster).
  • May seek out friends/family for comfort or
    withdraw for comfort.
  • Those with history of depression, suicidal
    behavior and/or chemical dependency are at
    greater risk for prolonged/serious grief
    reactions and may need careful attention from
    home and school.

9
Classroom Education Process Secondary Grades
  • Fact Phase
  • Explain, per written information from
    principal/designee, what has occurred
    (earthquake, shooting, accident, etc.) factual,
    truthful information without causing fear
  • Stay calm diffusing rumors is one of the largest
    issues with which the school must deal
  • Reinforce safety security
  • Provide structure maintain class schedule for
    consistency/normalcy however, reduce class
    workload as needed slower paced/enjoyable
    lessons with less homework.
  • Permit students to ask for clarification of the
    information presented. Provide only the factual
    information that has been written and verified by
    the principal/designee.

10
Classroom Education Process Secondary Grades
  • Teaching Phase
  • Review the normal responses that people have
    subsequent to a traumatic event e.g., anxiety,
    fear, sleep problems, bad dreams, eat too
    much/too little, trouble paying attention normal
    responses to trauma last about 2 months.
  • Help students anticipate some changes in friends
    behavior e.g. grieving friends may act
    differently, withdraw from friends or seem angry
    or very sad but that this usually does not mean a
    permanent change in their relationship.
  • Encourage
  • students to talk to their parents or other caring
    adults about their feelings, to get plenty of
    sleep/exercise avoid sweets/snacking,
    caffeinated drinks, and TV.
  • students to maintain their regular friendships
    and that normal social activities (sports,
    watching a non-violent movie, having friends
    over, taking trips to the mall) can take their
    minds off of the loss. Assure them that having
    fun while grieving a loss is healthy and normal.
  • students who are worried about a friend who may
    be at risk of destructive behavior or who,
    themselves, are having a problem handling their
    feelings to talk to a school site crisis team
    member and/or a caring adult.

11
Classroom Education Process Secondary Grades
  • Assessment Phase
  • Help students to anticipate some changes in
    friends behavior. Grieving friends may
    withdraw, appear angry or very depressed.
  • Seeing their peers reactions to the loss may
    result in fears/anxiety about their own losses or
    fears of loss (e.g., military families, death of
    family member, other loss). Be alert to such
    students.
  • Assure students that, if they want to talk with
    someone about what they are feeling (e.g.,
    questions abut death, grief experiences, etc.) as
    a result of the trauma, there are adults whom
    they can see.

12
Classroom Education Process Secondary Grades
  • Provide options for support suggest making cards
    or other forms of expression for those who have
    suffered a loss, helping others with chores (it
    helps us to cope when we help others).
  • Caution students to not keep the secret if a
    friend is very depressed and/or is talking about
    suicide encourage them to seek a caring adult or
    member of the schools crisis team.

13
Classroom Education Process Secondary Grades
  • Follow-Up Phase
  • Students who have lost a loved or who have
    friends/peers who have suffered traumatic losses
    may experience the most dramatic feelings of
    fear, anxiety and loss. Carefully observe such
    students for signs of traumatic stress,
    depression, suicidal thinking.
  • Meet with principal/designee and report on
    students reactions to the traumatic event and
    their needs.
  • Inform him/her regarding those specific students
    who need to be seen/triaged by the local school
    site crisis team.
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