Why is bereavement education so important?
Losing a loved one can be difficult for anyone, but for young people especially, experiencing the death of someone close to them can be a particularly distressing time. For teachers and peers, knowing how to provide the right support can be confusing, leading to many avoiding the conversation for fear of saying the wrong thing.
Grief is a very personal experience; with every child and young person experiencing it in a different way. Irritability, anger, and instability are common reactions, and this can lead to changes in behaviour in school which can have a knock on effect to other students.
Additionally, according to a collection of studies by PsycINFO and PubMed, individuals who experience the loss of a parent or sibling in childhood are at higher risk for developing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The impact of childhood bereavement on mental health may also be long-lasting and can persist into adulthood.
The findings represent an opportunity for a much-needed change towards death, loss, and bereavement in the education sector. Integrating death and bereavement education into the curriculum can help equip children to develop realistic and healthy attitudes towards death and loss, be more sensitive to the grief of others, and develop more effective coping strategies of their own for now, and in the future.
With the right training, teachers and educators can be more prepared to support a pupil experiencing grief and manage challenging behaviour more productively.