Loss and Bereavement Chris Duncan & Helen Mooney Behaviour and Attendance Team
“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it….it enters the classroom without knocking.”
Introductions Introduce yourself and which organisation you represent.
Scaling activity On a scale of 1 to 10 where would you place yourself in terms of how you feel about dealing with loss and bereavement?
Facts Every 22 minutes a child in Britain is bereaved of a parent – this equates to 24,000 newly bereaved children every year. Up to 70% of schools are dealing with a bereavement at any one time. 92.4% of 11-16yr olds reported a significant bereavement. 3.9% of children had experienced a death of a parent before 16yrs old and similar for a death of a sibling. Nearly 2,000 children called Childline in 2003-04 because they had been bereaved
ECM - 5 Outcomes Be Healthy Physical health: bereaved children visit their GP more frequently Mental health: death and loss are identified as key issues in the risk of children developing a range of mental health difficulties
Stay Safe Abuse: some young people, already vulnerable, seem to be at increased risk of physical, emotional or sexual abuse through their bereavement 1 in 20 suffer abuse following a bereavement (Childline, 2005). Bullying: bereaved children report being bullied because of their bereavement
Enjoy and Achieve School Exclusion: one study found that 63%of a group of 15-16 year olds outside of mainstream schooling had been bereaved of a significant person close to them
Make a positive contribution Offending behaviour: 41% young offenders in one study had experienced bereavement
Achieve Economic Well-being • Mortality rates are greater in lower socio-economic groups. Children in these groups are more likely to face bereavement • Family income falls if a parent dies
Loss is the state of being deprived of someone or something that is valued Bereavement is the experience of those left behind after someone has died Grief is the expression of an individual’s response to loss
Activity Chalk Talk: What types of losses have you experienced in your life? What feelings do you associate with loss? How did you behave? Who helped you to cope with your loss? What helped you cope with your loss? Thinking of LAC, what losses may they experience?
Looked After Children • Experiences of bereavement and loss are common among children who are looked after and may exacerbate both physical and emotional health problems. • Feelings of rejection – many moves • Feel worthless • May not thrive academically • Short-term memory loss – trauma • Short concentration span • Health issues
Stages of Grief Shock Denial Growing awareness: Yearning and pining Anger Depression Guilt Anxiety Acceptance
Rituals Rituals are used by all cultures and social groups to signify rites of passage
Children and Death: Levels of awareness, specific age group reactions and appropriate support at time of death
Behaviours: • Certain behaviour changes may need special attention, for example: • Truancy • Bullying behaviour • Risk-taking behaviour • Mood swings • Becoming withdrawn • Psychosomatic symptoms • Poor school work • Overworking
Ways adults may help • Listen • Communicate • Provide information • Give them permission to grieve • Give them time and space • Help them get outside help • Help them meet other bereaved children • Giving reassurance
Helping children to deal with grief Do: • Share your own feelings • Encourage tears • Respond to children’s feelings • Allow time for mourning (can be months)
Helping children to deal with grief Try not to • hide your own feelings • tell half truths and fairy tales • preach to the children • imply that things are temporary • leave explanations incomplete (he was sick…So am I, will I die?)
Top Tips from bereaved children • Write something difficult on paper - screw up the paper/throw away. • Write a diary about how you feel, make up poems, music and songs. • Talk to other people who understand how you feel, and to those who knew the person (someone in your family or close friends). • Put things or feelings away safely sometimes, so you can take them out another time. • It’s OK to feel sad, angry and scared and to cry, and it is also OK to feel happy and to enjoy things. • Visit the grave may make you feel closer to the person you have lost • In your mind or out loud, talk to the person who has died. • It is OK not to have the person in your mind all the time. • Thinking about happy and special times spent with that person and feeling glad that you did have them in your life. • Having a hug. • Taking a deep breath.
Small scale crises In-school The death of a pupil or member of staff through natural causes, such as illness A traffic accident A deliberate act of violence, eg a knifing or use of a firearm Out of school: Deaths/injuries on school journeys Tragedies involving children from many schools Civil disturbances involving bombs eg Northern Ireland. Refugee children joining a school, uprooted from their countries, shocked by wars or atrocities. Child being taken into care
Think about…. How do you already support children who have suffered a loss? How does your school/organisation currently support children who have suffered a loss? What might your school/organisation do differently?
Sharing the journey….. ‘No one can wave a magic wand to make everything better, but we can share the journey.’