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As teachers, parents, grandparents, other relatives or even the beloved family pet pass away due to old-age, accidents, illness or other causes we need to have difficult conversations with our children about death and grief. In the past, a young child may rarely be impacted by the death of a loved one but with COVID-19 that is changing.
It is important that any conversations you have with your child are caring and age-appropriate. Use words such as dead or died rather than “passed away,” “put to sleep” or “was lost” so that children aren’t confused by the meaning. Recognize that temporary behavior changes, including anxiety, acting out, or regression such as bed-wetting or clinginess, are normal reactions.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking with a Child about Death from Psychology Today
How to Talk to Kids About Death from Child Development Institute
Helping Your Toddler Cope with Grief and Death from Zero to Three
Books About Feelings for Babies and Toddlers from Zero to Three. Includes a section on Grief and Loss
When Grief and Loss Hits Close to Home Tips for Caregivers from National Association of School Psychologists
In case of an emergency, we encourage you to call 911 for medical help or 211 for a behavioral health emergency.
The Cove Center for Grieving Children specializes in helping children and adolescents who are grieving the death of a significant person in their life. This non-profit, which is located in Cheshire and serves all of CT, offers free child-focused, family support groups, a “Good Grief” school program, professional development, a weekend camping experience and community outreach.
Other local mental health professionals can be found in the Resources section of our website.
There are several apps and on-line services that can assist adults with their understanding of this issue.
If you are religious then consider reaching out to someone in your faith community or asking your religious leader for guidance.
Addressing Grief Tips for Teachers and Administrators from National Association of School Psychologists
Guidelines for Responding to the Death of a Student or School Staff from National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
Additional information about reacting to a death in the school community or putting together a plan is available from National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. They also have COVID-19 resources.
We all grieve in different ways and there is no one correct way or timeline for people to move through the grieving process. At times of severe stress, such as an international pandemic, both children and adults need extra support. Parents and teachers need to be alert to children in their care who may be reacting to the loss of a loved one but also need to be aware of their own need to grieve and to remember to take care of themselves.