While it is true that no two adults grieve the same, it is important to realize that children grieve differently than adults. The younger the child the more difficult it is for them to understand and process the concept of death. The vocabulary of a child is limited and it makes it more difficult for them to put their feelings into words. Their maturity often hampers their ability to cope and respond to the circumstances. Many psychiatrists and educators notice developmental stages in a child’s ability to deal with death.
whether elementary, secondary or college, the death of a student creates unique challenges for a school
The impact of the student’s death upon administrators, faculty, students and the school community will hinge on many factors, including the relationship shared with the student, the length of time of the relationship, the circumstances of the student’s death, and the age of the students involved. Responding to the loss of a student of any age creates unique opportunities for the school community. School personnel will play a key role in helping students and others process through the stages of grief in a school setting.
For students of any age, the death of a parent is an especially difficult time. Adults who have lost a parent need time to go through the grieving process. They draw on past experiences of death and heal through the passage of time. School-aged children who suffer the loss of a parent are often dealing with their first experience with death. They have neither the time nor experiences to learn to cope.
When the death occurs because of a purposeful act of violence, the very foundations of routine and security are left in shambles. The individuals left not only mourn the loss, but wrestle with attempts to explain the “Why” of the circumstance. Why would someone do this? Why did it happen to this person? Why am I still alive? There is a very real loss of safety and well-being.