A Parent Guide to Grief/Loss
With the advent of the present loss, parents need to be aware of their student’s perception of the events that they have experienced including the response within the school and how this information may impact upon their emotional health as well as school performance. Some suggestions to provide for emotional wellbeing include:
Be a good listener. Children of all ages have many questions regarding any loss, which may include fear/anxiety regarding their own physical/emotional safety as well as the future health and wellbeing of family members and friends. You may expect to observe a range of emotions and responses. Do not ignore questions or avoid discussion. All children need to perceive that their parents are available to them.
- Be calm, reassuring and supportive. Adolescents need to retain their confidence in adults as resources available to them emotionally, regardless of the level of their needs. While teens may want to focus on details of the death/loss, it is more productive to redirect the discussion to their feelings about what has happened.
- Model sharing behaviors. Children learn appropriate social behaviors and responses by observing behaviors in others, including parents. If they feel that grief/loss is not a topic to be discussed within the safety of their family, they may not believe they have any outlet for their concerns and feelings. Modeling open expression of sadness, frustration, anger, etc. helps facilitate a healthy grieving process.
- Allow/support time with peers. Adolescents in particular rely upon their peers for support during times of loss and grief. While this can be an effective and healing mechanism for them, parents should monitor these activities closely, ensuring that adult supervision is always available in these settings. Additionally, parents should set a time for electronics to be shut down and put away at night to allow for adequate down time/rest.
- Encourage the sharing of concerns with school staff. Students should be encouraged to seek out their school counselor, especially if they are experiencing significant concerns about how they or any of their friends are coping.
Parents should never hesitate to contact any of the Counseling Center staff, including counselors, psychologists and social workers. Deans and school nurses are additional points of contact for any concern about a student.
A listing of community resources is available on the Wheaton Warrenville South website on the Counseling Center page.