Grief and Loss

While all children and adolescents experience grief/loss differently, there are a variety of ways parents, educators, and community members can support them.   If your child is experiencing grief from a loss please let us know how we can support you. Contact your child’s school social worker, counselor, school psychologist, and/or principal.

Brief Facts and Tips from NASP (National Association of School Psychologists)

  1. Grief is not solely related to the death of a loved one. The symptoms, characteristics, and process of grieving can be similar after other types of loss (e.g., divorce, transition, moving).

  2. Grief is personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. How people grieve can be influenced by developmental level, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, mental health, disabilities, family, personal characteristics, and previous experiences.

  3. Grief is often characterized by sadness, emotional pain, and introspection in adults. However, children’s grief reactions differ according to age and developmental level:

    • Preschool - Regressive behaviors, decreased verbalization, increased anxiety

    • Elementary - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; irritability, aggression, and disruptive behaviors; somatic complaints; sleep/eating disturbances; social withdrawal; guilt, depression, and anxiety; repeated re-telling of the event

    • Middle and High School - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; avoidance, withdrawal, high risk behaviors or substance abuse, difficulty with peer relations, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing or depression

  4. Grieving does not have a timeline. Schools should be aware of anniversaries, birthdays, developmental milestones, and other factors that could affect students months or years after the loss.

Grief/Loss Resources

Agrace Family Grief Support Program is for families with children aged 5 to 18. Children attend with a parent/guardian, and a meal is shared as a group. After an opening activity, children spend time in the space that meets their needs at that time (for example, in a play room or art room), while the adults meet as a separate group.

National Alliance for Grieving Children promotes awareness of the needs of children and teens grieving a death and provides education and resources.

The Dougy Center The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences. 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides information and resources for students experiencing traumatic grief.