Grief is a complex emotion that follows a great loss in a person’s life. For elementary students, these losses can include the death of a loved one, a major life change like moving schools, or a severed friendship. As a school counselor, having high-quality resources on hand to support your students through grief is critical!
Introduction to Grief in Students and How School Counselors Can Help
Grief is such a big emotion for students to deal with. It is defined as deep sorrow.
Grief can manifest itself in children in a variety of ways and impact a child negatively while at school.
If left untreated, the issues associated with grief can become more complex and challenging to manage over time.
As the school counselor, you are a vital member of the team to help a child move forward and heal from significant moments of grief and loss.
The first, and most foundational step, in the healing process is to spend time establishing positive relationships with your students.
Once you’ve established a good rapport with your grieving student, it’s time to pull out your Grief Toolbox and get to work!
3 Favorite Resources to Add to Your Grief Toolbox
Selecting high-quality resources is invaluable! By selecting the right types of resources, you can save time, provide structure to sessions, and be confident that you’re using materials that are aligned with counseling standards and best practices.
Add these three to your Grief Toolbox and use them as needed:
Grief & Loss Journal
This digital and printable Grief and Loss Journal helps students understand and process the complicated journey of grief.
This journal supports students through their good days – and the days in which they feel blindsided and overwhelmed with grief. Students learn to define and understand what grief looks like for them, how it affects their body and mind, and how their emotions and experiences can change each day (and even each moment).
Students also learn about the stages of grief and have the opportunity to remember and honor their loved one by creating a memory box, writing them a letter, and sharing special memories they had together.
13 Grief & Loss Stories:
Find a unique story about a specific loved one your student has lost to help them process their big emotions using this Grief & Loss Stories resource.
13 options for different grief stories that each address a different type of loss are included, so you can choose the story that best fits your students’ needs:
- Loss of mom
- Loss of dad
- Loss of grandma
- Loss of grandpa
- Loss of sibling
- Loss of friend
- Loss of pet
By reading a story about the loved one that the child is grieving, the child feels seen, understood, and not-so-alone in their experience.
Six of the stories are suited best for kindergarten through 2nd grade while the remaining 7 are geared towards 3rd through 5th graders.
The lower elementary stories use a more kid-friendly barn animal theme, and each story details Bessie Cow’s experience of losing her mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, sibling, dog, and friend. The upper elementary stories use a more mature human theme and address the same 7 types of losses.
It will mean so much to your students for them to read a story about a character going through the same loss as them. This will be one of the most powerful tools you have in supporting your students.
The stories are available as a printable PDF and digital for Google Slides™, and a Memory Journal is included, too.
Grief & Loss Lap Book:
The third resource you’ll want to add to your Grief Toolbox is the Grief and Loss Lap Book.
Lap Books are amazing to keep on hand because they are stored so easily in a Manila folder and are a perfect “grab and go” activity.
This specific resource uses a weather theme to help students understand the stages of grief and the complex, ever-changing journey toward the “acceptance rainbow.” It teaches students 10 coping strategies to help them manage and process their feelings and includes 10 questions to help guide discussion.
Check out the Grief & Loss Bundle to purchase all three of these resources plus one more!
Having high-quality resources (especially done-for-you ones!) on hand is a great way to be prepared to help students learn to cope with grief and loss.
Storybooks are another phenomenal resource to have in your Grief Toolbox. Find a list of 6 trusted read-alouds about grief and loss in part 2 of the Grief & Loss series. In part 4 of the Grief & Loss series, you will find 7 interactive activity ideas to use with students who have experienced grief and loss.