6th April 2016

Supporting schools through bereavement

St Richard’s Hospice not only cares for patients with life-limiting illnesses, its specialist teams support bereaved families and provides training and support to other professionals that are involved with families at these difficult times.

Children may find illness and death difficult to understand and come to terms with. Their awareness of what is happening within their family and friendship groups can be very different from each other and they may be unable to express themselves.

The hospice’s family support team helps parents and schools to understand that children’s feelings may be expressed in behaviours that they might find challenging. We work with local schools to help staff understand and support pupils through their grief and to help students have more balanced and healthier view of death, dying and bereavement.

Using a range of activities, we are helping school staff to spot the signs that indicate how a child is coping before and after a bereavement, how to talk to children about their loss and how to support other children at the school.

Following the unexpected death of a pupil at a local school we were able to provide support, helping staff to cope with their own distress and that of the pupils, parents and wider community. The Head Teacher later attended a training session for schools to help other school staff consider how they might support children and families facing loss and grief.

Sarah Popplestone HelmShe offered this feedback: “When you find yourself supporting staff, pupils and parents who are struggling to understand unexpected events nothing prepares you. I have told other head teachers about the support we received. I will be forever grateful for your understanding, compassion and practical suggestions. You provided us with a supportive service which I feel is of the upmost importance.”

Sarah Popplestone-Helm,

Head of Family Support Services