Presentation on theme: "Loss Grief and Growth Education Resource"— Presentation transcript:
1 Loss Grief and Growth Education Resource Workshop for teachers
2 Developed with sponsorship from: Ontario Funeral Service AssociationOntario Board of Funeral Services
3 “Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it “Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it... it enters the classroom without knocking.”
4 The story...YvesBerthiaume – story of his father dying when he was 12 and the teachers who supported and mentored him“…had it not been for the hard work and dedication of teachers I never would have made it to college….”
5 “We need to address the needs of kids” Yves Berthiume Developed tours of the funeral homes
6 “The most frequent question from teachers…” “How do I support grieving students?”
9 Loss Grief and Growth honors the relationship between students and teachers.
10 Teachers are connected with students: before, during and after the loss occurs.when some have forgotten the needs of a grieving child.
11 Loss Grief and Growth honors teachers as: mentors,creators of a safe environment,communicators inviting expression of feelings and fears, andcreative leaders of teachable moments.
12 Loss Grief and Growth honors children “We are powerless to control the losses and catastrophic events our children may experience, but by honouring their inner wisdom, providing mentorship, and creating safe havens for expression, we can empower them to become more capable, more caring human beings.”Linda Goldman
16 Types of losses Divorce Moving Developmental And out kids are exposed to deathMinorMajor
17 Death in the family grandparents, parents, siblings, pets, friends … Generally, children may experience the death of pets and grandparents as their first losses.
18 Death in the mediaNews - global community violent/sudden/tragic/terrorist/war/conflictMovies, gamesfictional/unrealviolent/sudden/tragic/terrorist/war/conflict
19 Death in the school community Peoplepeersteachers,support staffcustodial stafffamily members of peersLoss in the school community may be actual deaths or…(next slide)
20 and school curriculum. Death observed through curriculum. Death in the curriculum may cause regrief, or” vicarious grief”, which is grief stimulated by someone else’s loss.EXERCISEWhat are examples of curriculum content in which children may find the occurrence of death?Short Presentation:Large group BrainstormHalf day or full day presentation:Small groups formed of teachers of the same courses or general areas.How might the topic of death be addressed to minimize the impact on the students?Poster paper, and present to the group on a full day presentation.Examples – Language Arts - novels, alternative reading sources such as comic books, films, creative writingSocial Studies – current events, filmsScience - Biology – cycle of lifeMath – statistics/demographicsArt – paintings, drawings,sculptureDrama – plays, improvisations
21 Death in the community“Not only do we grieve as individuals, we grieve as communities. Our lives are so intertwined that each of us is affected by a death in our community.” Dr. John Morgan
22 Grief is a normal healthy response to loss. is a whole person response.Grief affects a student emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially, and cognitively.
23 Drawing grief Discussion: Exercise to discover the ‘whole person response” to grief.EXERCISEStudents can work together in small groups, or individuallyProvide students with paper (flip chart size if activity is completed in small groups), markers or crayonsHave students outline the bodyExplain to students that grief is often felt physically, ask students to show where they feel their grief, their emotions after a loss(this may include sadness, worry, anger, fear, fatigue, energy level…..)Adapting to the age group, discuss how grief can also affect: concentration/thinking, relationships with friends, faith/questions,Have students draw what their grief response might look likeOne hour presentationIllustrate the activity on a flip chartHalf day workshop – 30 minute activityGive the teachers handouts of the body or paper to draw a body outline, plus markers or/crayonsGive directions as above.Debrief with one or two other participants.Full Day workshopAsk for volunteers to comment on:1 the exercise,2 how they think it would work with students,3 suggestions they have for making it work even better with students in their grade/course.
24 Grieving is the process of integrating the loss into ones life and making meaning of life’s experiences.
25 Grieving is not something to “get over” is not something that needs to be “fixed”
26 Grieving New losses can trigger old losses. we regrieve at future levels of growth, development, and future life events.Example: child whose father died when he is 7 understood at his/her level of understanding, when his cognitive capacity develops further he will need to integrate it at a new level/understanding. And, at future life events, may find himself grieving the loss once again…..Teacher interventions for re-grieving :EXPECT that the student will enter another period of grief when they reach future stages of development. NOTE If a junior high or high school student is exhibiting unusual or delinquent behaviors, explore if there has been an early loss -> helping the child re-grieve may be more helpful than suspension, etc.2. Ensure that the student’s loss is clearly documented and easily accessibleInclude notes in the student’s cumulative file –> obtain parental consent where directed by school board regulationsBe sure to include the loss in cross grade/school articulation meetings/notes.Use technology as available – example –> use Activity Tracker in computerized Student Information Record System (SIRS), or whatever other student information record system your school/school board utilizes
27 Misconceptions about grieving There is a right way to grieveThere are stages of griefGrief is/should be time limited“It is time to get over this”“When will she “get over” this?”Stages of GriefAlthough Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the field of death and dying, extensive research by others show that instead of stages, it may be more helpful to look at grief as a series of tasks or as a more fluid process.Time limit conceptLarge group brainstorm :What do think is the average time it might take to grieve the loss of a spouse?Answer : Studies indicate that it can take over 5 years before the bereaved is able to identify themselves as someone other than a griever. Many grievers say that the second year of grieving is more difficult than the first year!
29 The age and stage of development Grief tasks will be influenced by the capabilities determined by the child or teen’s age and stage of development.
30 FamilyFamily support will depend on a number of factors which may include:-the dynamics within the family-communication styles within the family-composition I.e. single, blended,extended-experience and beliefs about grieving-other stressors in the family**** Families are not always able give a grieving child the support that they need. A teacher may be the one person who is available to offer the student what they need to cope with their grief.
31 Social Support SystemThe most important indicator for healthy grieving, at any age, is a strong support system.Although the peer group may provide some support for a bereaved student, teachers will be the adult support which the children are more likely to turn to once their friends weary of their grief reactions.Children who are supported through their early loss and grief tend to have fewer difficulties in school in their teen years
32 Personality traits We tend to grieve the way we live. Personality traits may influence how children grief in areas such as:Locus of controlEmotional stabilityMaturity
33 GenderAlthough there is evidence which indicates that males grieve differently than females, it is more helpful to look at grieving styles on a continuum where individuals may move towards either side
35 “Intuitive” grieving style… The “typical grief response” e.g. crying, talking.Sadness is the primary emotion.Grief is processed through feelings.The ‘intuitive’ grieving style has characteristics we normally associate with grieving.Female students may be more likely to demonstrate these type of grief reactions than male students.The male griever who grieves “intuitively” may not be supported by family, peers, and teachers to express their emotions ie “Big boys don’t cry”.
36 “Disenfranchised grief “ Recognitionof the lossthe grief andthe griever“Disenfranchised grief “Introduce concept : Disenfranchised Grief – Grief resulting from a loss which the culture may not recognize or acknowledge as a loss or source of grief.ie disenfranchised grief for children/students may include;a move to a new locationloss of a petdeath of a neighbourdeath of a friend
37 “Instrumental” Grieving Style Little talk, lots of action..Grief is processed cognitively rather than emotionally.If expressed, an emotion is more likely to be anger than sadness.The ‘Instrument” grieving style has characteristics which we may more commonly see with male students.Some teachers may find the Instrumental grieving style more challenging to accommodate in their classrooms. (“I could handle it if he would talk to me about how he is feeling, but he is just so angry, and I don’t know how to reach him”)Female students who tend toward the instrumental grieving style may not be understood by parents, peers, teachers, who may expect them to express emotion, and who are worried that they are “not grieving”.Teaching Intervention :To help an Instrumental griever, it may be more helpful to ask “ What are your thoughts about not having your Dad here to help you with your homework anymore?” instead of “ How does it feel not having your Dad here to help you….”
38 Type and nature of death With respect to the impact of death in a child’s life, any death may be viewed as a traumatic loss – depending on how the child experiences the death.Response may differ if the death is expected and follows a period of illness vs a sudden deathGo to next slide
39 Cause of death However, some deaths are violent. Some children may experience violent deaths as close as their own school playground.School Crisis Response Plans and teams will provide guidance and support to teachers in their own trauma or grief reactions, as well as their work with bereaved students.In addition, many immigrant students from refugee camps or areas of armed conflict may have witnessed particularly violent deaths to family members, friends or neighbours.In the event of a violent or traumatic death, a child will probably process the trauma of the event before they can begin the grief process -> this can significantly extend the amount of time between the event, the onset of a grief response, and the time the child may need to move through the phases of grieving.We may see this child struggling with trauma and grief reactions for a number of years.Teacher Intervention:Note the type and nature of a death in the student’s cumulative file.Ensure that grade and school articulations include this information.
40 Cultural and Religious Beliefs ANOTHER FACTOR INFLUENCING GRIEFThere are many community and online resources for discovering the grieving practices of various cultures and religions.To discover the beliefs and traditions you mightask the grieving student about their cultural or religious practicesask peers, school staff, or a leader from the same culture/religionEXERCISEOne hour presentation -> examples from own experience with grieving members of a given culture/religionHalf Day Presentation->Large Group Brainstorming ExerciseWhat are some of the grieving practices in your culture/religion? Of your students? 5 minutesFull Day Presentation -> Small Group ExerciseWhat are some of the grieving practices in your students’ cultures?What are some of the ways that the school has accommodated these practices?How could you accommodate the practices in your classrooms? 30 –45 minutesPoster paper and present to the large group.
41 What you might see… Doses Incapable of grieving 24 hours a day Periods of grief may last from 30 minutes to a few hoursBetween these periods of grieving, behaviour appears to be normalPlayLack of language acquisition related to grief can become frustrating for a young childActive play and the creative arts, including art and music, facilitates expression of the child’s thoughts and feelings
42 In Elementary and Middle School: Children grieve in “doses”.Grief may be expressed through play.
43 Children may temporarily regress to a time of safety and security. -especially in elementary school
44 Children may struggle to pay attention or stay focused. The whole body response to grief may interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention in class or to focus on their assignments.They often report feeling “confused”.
45 A child’s quality of work may change for better, or worse. Quality of work changes:Many students may not complete classroom assignments or homeworkDue to fatigue, many students may not have the energy to spend studying -> test results may sufferSome students may actually improve their academic performance -> these students are more likely to be instrumental grievers and find that throwing themselves into schoolwork helps the grieving process
46 School attendance may become sporadic. A child may complain of fatigue and illness more often than usual. -> nightmares may be disrupting their sleep.School attendance may become sporadic.Lack of school attendance often becomes the primary factor leading to a student being unsuccessful at school.Teacher InterventionRemember that the child is exhausted by the whole body response to grief.They are not ‘skipping’; they are trying to cope with their grief reaction.
47 What you might see in High School… An inability to focus or pay attention.Changes in academic performance.Complaints of fatigue and illness.Sporadic school attendance.Similar challenges as younger students.
48 a greater volatility of emotions. there may be an increase in risk taking behaviours in grieving teens.In addition, the juxtoposition of grief and the hormonally influenced emotions of an adolescent may lead to a greater volatility of emotions.Outbursts of frustration and anger may occur unpredictably and with greater frequency.Increased risk taking may be from attempts to avoid pain of grief, acting out of anger, attempts to defy ‘death’ eg drinking, drinking and driving, drug use, promiscuity,
49 Grief is not “an excuse”, it may be the hardest work the student has yet faced in life!A high school counselor once heard a teacher say about a student…“His dad died last month and he is still using this as an excuse”Although there may be some students who may use the loss or their grief as “an excuse”, most students are just struggling to cope with the whole person response.Grief is not an excuse, it is a reality.Cannot stress enough that the grieving process is hard work.
50 Developing an understanding of death Through the course of developmental stages and life experiences, children begin to grasp the meaning of death.A child’s age and stage of development will influence their cognitive processing of grief and how it looks in the classroom.Younger children who are not yet understanding what is means to be dead, may ask questions such as“When is Grandpa taking us to the park again?”“Is Grandma going to wake up soon?”“Did Daddy die because I didn’t clean my room?”“Am I going to die too?”There are 4 components of death which may be used to assess a child’s understanding of the concept:PermanenceIrreversibilityCausalityUniversality
51 Death is permanent “ When is Grandma coming back ?” “Irreversibility”A helpful response to this question might be to focus on the feeling that the child is experiencing.e.g. “ Grandma has died and will not be coming home. You must miss her very much.”
52 All body functions stop “When someone dies, her body stops working. The heart stops beating, and breathing stops.The brain doesn’t send or receive messages. She no longer can see, hear, touch, taste , smell, eat, play, feel or think. She cannot move.”When Dinosaurs Die by Brown &Brown“Nonfunctionality”“The body has stopped working…. Quote from Dinosaurs…A child who does not yet understand nonfunctionality might ask a question like “Is Tiger cat cold in the ground?”
53 Cause of death Young children may engage in “Magical Thinking”. “She died because I was mad at her”Children at this age engage in “Magical thinking” – they believe that they did or said something that caused the death – this could be kindergarten up to even grade 2 children.A helpful response might be to remind the child of the cause of the death, and that people do not die because we get mad at them.Children who are truly grasping “causality” as a concept of death will be able to describe realistic causes of death.Example – a teen will be able to describe the external factors such as a car crash, as well as the internal causes such as severe brain damage.
55 Between the ages of 7 to 12, most children are beginning to grasp each of the key components of deathRemember:Each child grieves differently according to the factors we have discussed. Even within the same family, siblings will have their own unique grieving process, including timeline.Also, as children regrieve, their stage of cognitive development will facilitate attainment of understanding the concepts at a deeper level.
57 Teachers can: promote a climate of openness… foster empathy in the classroom…provide an environment that is safe, respectful, non-judgmental, and caringlook for “teachable moments”
58 Teachers can help students grow from loss by encouraging their understanding: that people grieve in their own ways.that help is available and that it is okay to ask for help.Students of most ages do not want to appear different than their peers.They have a strong need for acceptance.They may be reluctant to ask for help as it may be an indication that they are “different”
59 Teachers can encourage students to grow from loss by helping in the development of: clear language and vocabulary to name their feelings .healthy ways to express feelings.sensitivity to the needs of others.In the resource.
60 Saying and doing the “right thing” You do not need to be and you can not be “prepared with the right thing to say”There is NO right thing to say.
62 Be a good observerKnow the signs of grief for the age and gender of your students.Look for signs of grief, regrieving…Observations also include documentation in the cumulative file and articulation with previous teachers and/or schools.
63 Be a good listener Listen: for content. for “in-between the lines” messages.and look for non-verbal clues.Students are most likely to talk to their teachers about their struggles.Most referrals about grieving students come to guidance through teachers, NOT student self-referral.
64 Be flexible Develop accommodations to address : Severe fatigue. Inattention.Confusion.An inability to focus.Exercise –What classroom and/or academic accommodations could you make to help a grieving child?One Hour Presentation:Discuss as a large group – 5 minutesHalf Day Presentation:Small groups – discuss general accommodations for a bereaved student. 20 minutesFull Day Presentation:Small groups – Develop classroom and academic accommodations for a bereaved child in the grade range you teach. What instructional and/or staff resources would you use. How would you engage the parent in the process?Poster paper and present to large group 45 minutes
65 Be availableStudents may be tired in the morning from a lack of sleep – they may miss early morning classes, or be unable to focus.Lunch or after school will be better times to meet with them to help them get caught up, or have a chat.
66 Above all…be patient Grief always takes longer than expected. Grief takes time. It may take a few months after a death before we start to see signs of grief. Bereaved students often find the second year after the death the most difficult – this is when teachers tend to forget about the loss, or think that the students should “be over” the loss.Introduce concept of SUGs – Sudden Upsurge of Grief – may occur during class – curriculum content often precipitates a SUG
67 Be aware of your own feelings Exercise –Individually: What thoughts or feelings do you experience when dealing with a grieving child? How do these affect your work with the child? What resources could help you be more effective with a bereaved student? 10 minutes
68 Be honest Be a companion, not an expert. You don’t have to have all the answers.Honest1.that you don’t have all the answersReframe role to one of companion instead of expert2.about your own abilities and/or comfort in working with a grieving child
69 Considering the guidelines Great responses may include:Silence“I don’t know”“How can I be helpful?”Reflect on the previous slides of general guidelinesExerciseDiscuss the difficult questions, cases that teachers have heard/been involved in.How can these guidelines help us determine our responses?
70 Be willing To be sad To be silly To be creative To connect Music MoviesTo be sillyCardsTo be creativeStoriesGamesTo connect
71 Be aware of cultural diversity You might want to explore:How do people in this cultural community demonstrate feelings of grief?What things will people in this community be doing to support the family now and in the days /weeks/months ahead?How do we best offer our support to the family/the student?Is it appropriate to: send flowers/letters, visit the home, attend the funeral…In addition to the answers which came from the previous activity, teachers/schools may consider these questions as well. (slide)Rather than providing a “book” on the traditions/beliefs of various world religions, it may be more helpful to ask questions of the particular family/community.If there has been any offense to a student related to their cultural or religious grieving practices, we can learn from the experience by asking ourselves “ What didn’t we ask? What did we assume?”
72 You do not need to be a specialist to offer support Grieving students do not usually require services of a specialist.There is great value in the social support offered by the school community.Definition of specialist – psychologist, medical personnal
73 “Critical Incident Response Teams” Mentor teachers to support students“After we responded to a few incidents this school, the teachers were more confident in addressing the needs of the students themselves – we became a helpful presence rather than doing it all”This document is an ongoing, proactive and response based approach. It is not intended to replace the CIRT!NOTE:The term “grief counsellors” is often used/reported by the media following a tragedy in the school community. “The grief counsellors have been called in”. Help the media learn that the “CIRT” team members are not “grief counsellors” and their purpose is different, and to use the correct terminology to have clarify what is being provided.
74 Indicators of need for additional support Persistent denial of the deathPhysically assaulting othersPersistent anger towards everyonePervasive depression/isolationProlonged feelings of guilt/responsibility for deathExcessive misbehaviorPersistent lack of interest in any activityDrug/alcohol useLook in “Resources”Talk with the parent, a guidance counselor.
75 Activity Choose a grade Read the introduction Choose one “TASK” Choose one “Teachable Moment”Give out the resources, or jump to the end so that teachers who have their laptops can access it online.Brief Presentation:Go through the “Activity” together.Half day or Full Day WorkshopDivide into same grade/level/course small groups.Select a grade that is most appropriate for the students you teach.Follow the “Activity” and create a lesson plan for one “TASK” and the relevant “Teachable Moment”60 minutesFull day -> poster paper and present.
76 Your support of a grieving student will change their life! When you are frustrated, confused, or discouraged, remember Yves story – your hard work and dedication WILL change the life of a student.