‘Any child old enough to love is old enough to grieve’ (Wolfelt, 1996, p. ix)
Today’s children and young people have been described as ‘the world’s first ‘grief-free’ generation’ (Wolfelt, 1996, p. 8). 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 who 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.
Please find below a range of resources to help support schools and school leaders with grief and bereavement. There are a number of different resources - our own guidance documents; guidance from the Church of England and the NGA; and resources for external sources. These include materials from Prayer Spaces in Schools who have a whole range of different resources on their own website https://www.prayerspacesinschools.com/