Telling children in school that one of their friends has died is a particularly difficult task, requiring great sensitivity on the part of the head teacher, chaplain or other members of staff.
"It creates trust to provide children with truthful, age appropriate and culturally sensitive information."
~ Teaching Children with Life-Limiting Illnesses: A manual for schools
Telling children in school that one of their friends has died is a particularly difficult task, requiring great sensitivity on the part of the head teacher, chaplain or other members of staff. The announcement should be made with honesty, directness and simplicity. It will help children in their shock and grief if they see for themselves that the adults around them are experiencing the same emotions. It is helpful to be given permission to cry, however young or old you are, and to be assured that tears are healing in the outpouring of emotion.
Some sort of remembrance event at school, marking and celebrating the child's life and giving opportunity to express sorrow and all the conflicting emotions that arise, may be creative and healing.1
When a death influences the lives of students, teachers and schools can make a life-long difference by creating an environment for healing and support. Teachers have the opportunity to touch children's lives in a very special way; their actions have a lifelong impact.
Having an open and informed relationship with the school will benefit the returning child(ren) and their family. It is important the school is aware of the difficulties and the impact they may have.
1 Frances Dominica, 1997, Just my reflection: Helping families to do things their way when their child dies, Great Britain, Golden Cup Printing