Appendix 2: Practical guidance documentation

‘Any child old enough to love is old enough to grieve’ (Wolfelt, 1996)

Working with children and young people who are experiencing loss and grief is an enormous privilege and a responsibility. Whilst it is important that we take that responsibility seriously, we must also hold it lightly, accepting that it is not our job to ‘cure’ the child or the situation, and that there are no hard and fast rules. What is key is that we allow ourselves to be guided by the child or young person who is grieving, the only expert in how they are feeling.

Wolfelt uses the helpful metaphor of gardening – where a natural process of growth and change is protected and nurtured by those that care. He suggests that ‘grief gardeners’ know that grief is organic, complex but perfectly natural and necessary. As gardeners we are called to watch and learn as well as to create conditions that allow our companion to mourn. The process of accompanying a child or young person in their grief journey involves patience, courage and flexibility as they flit nimbly between moments of deep pain, times of fun and laughter, and philosophical depth and pragmatic realism as they explore their assumptions about life and its meaning and purpose.

Grief, Bereavement and Loss
Basic Principles to practice
How schools can help in supporting bereaved children
Children’s understanding and response to death
Breaking sad news to the whole school community
Ideas for Collective Worship and Memorial
Additional ideas for parents and children