In this week’s podcast Dale Pickles from B Squared is joined by Sarah Jane Critchley to discuss grief and how to support children and staff after a death or other loss.
Sarah-Jane was previously the Programme Manager for over 10 years at the Autism Education Trust. Pupils with autism often struggle with attending school for a number of reasons. Her daughter Beth has autism and also suffers from migraines which meant from Year 3 onwards she missed a lot of school and missed over 50% of her GCSE classes, eventually dropping out of school in year 12.
This podcast was recorded at the end of August 2020. At the time there have been around 41,000 deaths linked to COVID. There is talk of a second wave, possibly a third. Supporting a child or staff member after a death, bereavement or loss is something that normally happens infrequently. With the number of deaths that have already happened and the number of deaths being speculated, it is an area that schools will need to spend more time thinking about and preparing for.
There is nothing worse than the loss of someone who is important to you whether you loved them or not. and many of our children will have experienced that pain, whether in their own families, or in their wider social circles. What can we do, as the adults who support them to make sure that we are helping them as they grieve without adding to their pain?
CAMHS services and support services are overstretched and will not have the capacity to support bereaved children. This will fall on Mental Health leads in schools and in fact all staff.
Losing someone important to us isn’t something you just ‘get over’, but finding understanding, patience and time to express that in a safe environment is important. As people who care about children and their development, we need to be ready to listen, to support and to help.
Trauma impacts the developing brain of children, healing won’t ‘just happen’ and we need to act now to prevent a lost generation of children. Acting early will reduce the impact on the child, provide a space for healing and reduce the impact on behaviour and academic performance.
Sunderland, M., Hancock, N., Armstrong, N. (2003). The Day the Sea Went out and Never Came Back. London: Routledge,
Sunderland, M., Hancock, N. (2003). Helping Children with Loss. London: Routledge,
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