When it comes to grief, there’s no timeline or specific end date. The act of grieving will be a different process for everyone. Unfortunately, this means we may have to return to our responsibilities before we feel ready to.
For students, balancing their academic workload while coping with the loss of a loved one can present a challenge. And without the right resources, bereavement can start to affect all areas of a student’s life. Below are some steps for students to take to help face grief while returning to class.
Strategies for Students
According to grief counselor Linda Duran, a student’s grief “definitely affects their ability to handle the stresses that a normal school day can bring and inevitability affects their ability to learn in the school environment.”
For students, returning to school will be difficult. But employing healthy coping techniques can help them begin to heal. Below are some healthy grief strategies for students:
- Many schools offer free counseling services for students that students should take advantage of.
- Students need to remember to pace themselves. The healing process will be a long journey. They should give themselves time to return to their normal activities. If they feel overwhelmed with their workload or extracurricular activities, they should approach a teacher and explain their situation.
- Grief causes extra stress on our bodies and even causes physical symptoms. So students need to focus on their health. This includes eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
- If the school or university has one, students should consider joining a grief support group of their peers or beginning one of their own. They’ll be able to connect and share experiences with other students who’ve also lost a loved one.
- It’s especially important that a student lets him or herself grieve. At times it might feel easier to throw ourselves back into our work and routines. But we can’t ignore our emotions. Expressing how we feel is an important part of healing. Talking about our loss with friends and family provides us with support and is a cathartic experience. However, as the Huffington Post notes, students don’t always have to express their emotions verbally or with others. Instead, students can keep a journal, write letters to their loved one, create a scrapbook to compile the memories that they enjoyed with their loved one, or even join a volunteer group to support a cause that was important to their loved one.
Resources for Teachers
Most teachers will have a grieving student in their class at one point or another. But many schools don’t offer the training or resources necessary for teachers to help these students.
One survey found that seven in 10 classrooms have at least one student who is mourning the loss of someone close. The survey also found that:
- 92% of educators — including teachers, teacher assistants, counselors, and staff — say childhood grief is a serious problem that deserves more attention from schools.
- 93% of teachers say they’ve never received bereavement training; only 3% say their school or district offers it.
For teachers looking to help grieving students, here are some resources to check out:
- The Dougy Center (National Center for Grieving Children & Families)
- National Alliance for Grieving Children
- Coalition to Support Grieving Students
- The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
- National Association of School Psychologists
What are some other healthy grieving strategies for students? Share them with us in the comments!