How To Support A Student In Grief

Being a school teacher is a considerably selfless job. You prepare lessons almost every night; when you present it to the class, you can never be sure whether the students will listen to you or not. Although you don’t feel well, you force yourself to teach so that the latter won’t have to stop learning for a day. At times, you may even prioritize your profession over your personal life for the sake of your beloved students.

The thing is, problems don’t only affect grownups like you. Some of the learners might be living in a complex where flooding or massive fire can wipe all their family’s possessions away. Others experience losing a parent, a grandparent, or another close relative to a disease or an accident. Due to that, these kids’ minds may always be flying elsewhere, and they cannot perform well at school.

As their teacher, therefore, you should know how to support your students in grief.

Encourage Self-Expression

What makes it harder for some kids to move on is their lack of knowledge when it comes to expressing their emotions and thoughts. They have never gone through a significant loss until now. If the relatives are busy dealing with their grief too, the children who are assumed not to be aware of their surroundings are left to handle the emotions on their own. Hence, once they are in your class, you may introduce activities that will allow the grieving child to express how he or she feels.

Talk To Your Student Directly

“Everyone reacts differently to grief, and how one reacts has a great deal to do with what happened and whether they’ve dealt with it appropriately,” says Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC. As mentioned also in, considering self-expression doesn’t seem to be working much, you are welcome to make the kid stay behind the class for a few minutes and speak about what happened to them. Mention what you know about losing someone or something dear, but try not to share many stories about your experiences. Instead, ensure that the student understands what death means and that its occurrence is not his or her fault.


Address Behavioral Changes

Since kids are usually at school, it is the teacher who sees any change in a student’s behavior, not the guardians. Grieving children use different mechanisms to cope with their feelings, after all. Some grow quieter than ever; others who used to be meek transform into troublemakers. “For grieving people, practicing self-compassion and self-care is often very difficult. All humans share the inclination to want to relieve discomfort when we find ourselves in it.” says Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT.

When you notice the behavioral difference, you ought to address it immediately. You are like a second parent to your students; you, of all the other adults in school, should know when something’s wrong with them. Then, you may either coax the child to talk about their issues or refer him or her to a counselor.

Offer Additional Assistance

In case the child has trouble catching up with the class, you can offer to tutor him or her after school hours. You can do it at school, or go to the student’s house if he or she does not want the classmates to know about it. This extra step is easy to coordinate with their guardian and the school administrators, primarily when it will help the grieving kid a great lot.


Grief is not easy to deal with for anyone. It has a lasting effect on the people who experienced loss.  “No one is born knowing how to cope with the wave of grief that follows the death of someone we love. As a psychotherapist who’s worked with many grievers, I know when faced with overwhelming grief, many people feel like they are alone in what they’re experiencing and can feel like they’re going crazy.” That is according to Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC. For the children who don’t know much about life still, it may be more difficult to overcome. Thus, teachers and parents should join forces to support them in these dire situations.