While it is difficult to think about, school counselors will at times be faced with the death of a student, staff member or close family member. This is a challenging situation for all involved. Having a general plan ahead of time and proceeding thoughtfully will help you support your community in moving past tragedy. See also Grief.
- Designate one person to be a liaison to the family and allow them to take the lead in your process. They can tell you what information they would like disclosed to your community and what might be a suitable memorial for the deceased.
- Be aware that any death in your community has the potential to bring up issues of past grief and loss for others, even if they are not directly impacted by the current situation. Be sensitive and prepared to help everyone work through their feelings.
- Template letter
- Grief Curriculum
- Grieving Students from ASCA
- Responding to Death of Student or Staff Member
- Tips for discussing death with small children or older children with cognitive delays
- Small Group lessons for Grief/Loss – Middle School
- Small Group lessons for Grief/Loss – High School
- The Dougy Center – The National Center for Grieving Children and Families
- Coalition to Support Grieving Students
- Proceed with caution when considering permanent memorials on school grounds. These can create problems, such as deciding how long to keep them, who will maintain them, the potential that this will bring up painful feelings in others and keep them from moving on.
- Incidences of suicide require special handling and should not be dealt with using the same protocol as a death caused by accident or illness.
- Q: What is a good book recommendation for an adolescent who lost a brother in a car accident? A: Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens by Alan Wolfelt.
- When we lost a young teacher last year very unexpectedly, we did grief work in all her classes and allowed them a place to put post-its messages to her as a memorial. That really helped a lot. We also closed off her classroom for two weeks and used the doorway as a memorial. Once her family had come to remove her stuff and we had a permanent sub in place, we reopened her classroom. The students who didn’t get along with her took it the hardest.
If you have suggestions, feedback, or resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.