In a classroom setting, the devastation being experienced by a student coming to terms with the death of a family member or peer, can have overwhelming repercussions, for the student, the rest of the class, and for the teachers. It is important for teachers to understand that, after a death has occurred, there are other losses to consider besides the immediately significant loss. As with the aftershocks from an earthquake, secondary losses can be just as devastating to a student, and affect his/her performance academically, socially, emotionally, and even physically, for years to come.
A child trying to come to terms with the permanence of the death of a loved one or peer may experience many emotions, the outward expression of which is not considered acceptable or desirable in a school setting. A child’s world is very much dependent upon others making decisions for him/her. Without any social, political, financial powers of their own, children are at the mercy of their elders. When a child’s emotional anchors have been pulled up, he/she has not yet acquired the adequate skills with which to cope and adjust. In subsequent posts, I will elaborate on how educators can play a vital role in implementing death education in the classroom.