Goals for Communicating with Grieving Families

It’s estimated that one in 20 children will lose a parent by the time he or she reaches age 16, with the vast majority of children experiencing a significant loss by the time they complete high school. Because loss during childhood is an all-too-common and underaddressed issue in our nation’s schools, NASSP has joined nine other partners in creating the Coalition to Support Grieving Students.

School professionals have a vital role to play in providing support to grieving students and their families. It is important to reach out and make contact with families after a death, and the coalition aims to provide better bereavement resources for all members of school communities across the U.S. to encourage and empower them in their ongoing support of grieving students.

The coalition has created the following nine goals for school leaders communicating with grieving families:

  1. Express condolences on behalf of the school community.
  2. Offer suggestions and advice on how to support grieving children.
  3. Remind parents or other guardians of their critical role supporting children at this time.
  4. Assist with students’ transition back to school.
  5. Seek feedback about how children are doing.
  6. Offer supportive resources in school and the community.
  7. Identify and anticipate potential challenges.
  8. Partner with families to support children over time.
  9. Provide appropriate reassurance and positive feedback.

You can find more information about these goals, along with additional suggestions about communicating with families, on the Coalition to Support Grieving Students website.

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