==>Q1: In what ways might a student display signs of dealing with grief & loss?
- Students may be withdrawn, may stop doing the things they used to like to do, their grades might suffer, outward signs of sadness.
- Outburst of anger, short temper, or sometimes a complete personality change are ways kids express grief
- Also, emotional outbursts and acting out behavior. Immature behavior (needing to be held, etc).
- All signs of depression could come up, not wanting to show up to school, somatization difficulties as well.
- Tired, withdrawn, angry.
- Attendance - not wanting to come to school, not engaging with friends, clinging to family.
- Student running away and hiding out in the building.
- Friends moving away, fights that end friendships, break ups with a bf or gf.
- Divorce, family separation, losing a home, doesn't have to be about death!
- Another form of loss... Personal health, limb...
- Losing an identity. I've seen this with middle/high schoolers grieving who they thought they were.
- Parent going to jail. Even a parent that travels for long period with work.
- Parent getting deployed was hard.
- I've had students grieve lost stuffed animals! It's still real, still grief!
- I think children grow a strong connection with pets and certainly the loss of a friend/peer.
- School closings! Chicago, Philly, other cities dealing w this kind of loss.
- Student teacher leaving mid year or teacher leaving for maternity leave or long term illness.
==>Q3: In 1:1 school counseling sessions, what are some techniques/activities you would use to help these students?
- Start with normalizing the grief. Letting the child know that it is normal to have these feelings, and it's ok to express them.
- Empty chair technique-talking to that person as if they were in the seat across from them or writing a letter they never send.
- NASP had a great quote- "Allow children to teach you about their own grief experiences." Each kid understands death differently.
- Or even a letter to the family expressing how much the person meant to them. Taking action is good mourning.
- "When Dinosaurs Die" is a helpful book to help elem students understand the concept of death. Get parent permission first!
- I encourage them to talk to their parents and go back to what they believe related to their religion.
- I used to have students write letters, tie to a balloon and have ceremony to let them go.
- I've had kids in a class create a banner, and we've planted living memorials as well.
==>Q4: What might you say to other students who express concern for their grieving friend?
- You just have to be there to listen empathetically for support. Just being there through difficult times helps a great deal!
- I make sure to praise friends for concern & ask them to keep school "as normal as possible" for the student-- usually helpful.
- Everyone grieves differently and help them understand they may not share sadness and grief in the same way as their friend.
- Keep an eye out for vicarious trauma-- if one student is very close to a grieving student, the friend may experience grief too.
==>Q5: Grief & loss small counseling groups: What potential difficulties do we need to consider in creating/running this group?
- The biggest difficulty with grief groups is the type of loss. Suicide vs. loss from other types of death often separate groups.
- May be difficulty in defining "loss" if death is still abstract. Also, differences in religious beliefs may come into play?
- Stage of grief will be different and the amount of time that has passed.
- There would be positives to running a G/L small group, too. I have not yet done this. I'd try a pair counseling experience first.
- Sometimes you have to separate kids out for individual counseling instead if some of those issues come up.
- I think the type of loss between students can be a challenge with groups.
==>Q6: As schcounselors, we're not therapists. Where do we draw the line in how much support to give these students? When to refer?
- I personally struggle with this because I was a therapist before I was a school counselor.
- I always give P's referral information regardless, but if it's a close relationship & S really struggling, def. referral.
- Our school groups are generally short lived, 6 / 8 weeks. If it's turning into depression they need more.
- Much overlap! I'm a trained therapist too. I frame schoolcounseling "brief therapy". If interfering w/ academics I refer.
- Always good to have constant open convo with parents, esp in this situation. Therapy is less stigmatized with G&L.
- I'm still surprised to see S's who never get therapy, even after a parent died. That really causes long term difficulties.
- It certainly can, but some students surprise me with their resiliency!
==>Q7: In what ways could you offer support to the student’s family?
- Main support could be connecting them with community resources. Counseling resources, school social worker, anything they need.
- Find grief/loss resources in your community before you need them! That way you have connections on the ready!
- Activities, referral information, what to look for, listening to their concerns.
- Let parents/families know you are there and can be a resource for facilitating services.
- Communicate ASAP, offer support in any way. Our school has donated books in memory of students' family members, sent cards, etc.
- We've helped families with funeral arrangements as well, through community groups such as the Lions Club, etc..
==>Q8: If we are informed that a student will experience loss in the near future, how can we be proactive in helping?
- Making sure a relationship is established.
- We can be there to give them ongoing counseling related to the coming loss. Also be there as a support for the family.
- Relationship is key! Letting students know you are there!
- True, when I'm an outside counselor coming in, it's harder as the S's don't know me, as compared when I know a S.
- Relationships are crucial in every aspect of our field! What an important reminder message to end on!