Coping with the loss of someone or something very special to you is a big challenge and this is why children and young people feel these losses as deeply as adults do. Feelings of loss are incredibly personal and are often associated with grief.
It is important to note that although there are crossovers, loss and grief are two very different subjects. Coping with the loss of someone or something very special to you is a big challenge and this is why children and young people feel these losses as deeply as adults do.
There can also be a big difference in how children and young people manage predicted (or planned) loss and sudden, more traumatic loss.
Loss that has been expected, such as some dying from a long-term illness, can allow the child or young person the time to understand and process what is happening, although this can lead to working through grief twice - the grief of anticipating the loss and the loss itself.
Sudden or traumatic loss, such as a suicide or leaving school in an unplanned way, similarly to what happened in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown, can cause a child or young person to lose faith in the predictability of their life and confidence in the people around them.
All too often, children and young people are not supported to talk about their loss, but are in fact encouraged to ‘get on with it’.
Adults may do this as they feel uncomfortable talking about loss for a number of reasons.
Closing down these conversations can be extremely detrimental to the process that children and young people need to go through but we understand that knowing what to say or do for the best can be tricky.
In the next few pages, you will find a wealth of information on how to support your students through loss.
Please also look through the Staff Wellbeing section, as this work can be tough on the emotional wellbeing of professionals too.