“Puberty is a time of great change … and grief just adds to this.”

Almost all pupils in secondary school will understand the full meaning of death, including its permanence and irreversibility.

Secondary pupils:

  • realise the impact of the death on their life; the person who died will not be there for any of the significant events in their future, e.g. prom, exam results, graduation, wedding day.
  • are striving to be independent and grown-up but the death of someone close creates vulnerability.
  • may have strong inhibitions about expressing their feelings; partly to appear grown up, and partly to avoid being different from their friends.
  • may challenge the beliefs and expectations of others as to how they should be feeling or behaving.
  • may be anxious about the future, and they may question the meaning of life and experience depression.
  • may have difficulty coming to terms with their own mortality and that of those close to them; they may cope with this by refusing to contemplate the possibility of death by taking part in risk-taking behaviour.
  • may exhibit anger as part of their grief, often compounded by a sense of injustice.