How does supporting a friendship group help to reduce isolation and bullying for a bereaved pupil?

As adults we can find it difficult to know what to say to a bereaved friend or colleague, and for young people this is also true. Many of them will be struggling with the concept of death and very few will have the language or understanding to be supportive.

It can help a bereaved pupil if their friends are aware what has happened, so it is important to encourage them to share their news, even if it is only with their closest friends. Adults can support the friendship group by:

  • Explaining or helping to explain what has happened (with the permission of, and prior discussion with, the bereaved pupil).
  • Offering opportunities for the friends to ask questions which may feel awkward or difficult in front of their bereaved friend.
  • Discussing ways in which they can help their friend – talking to them, asking how things are going, saying they are sorry to hear the news, making them laugh, letting them cry, being good friends, spending time together, not having unrealistic expectations, making mistakes, understanding anger, frustration, solitude.
  • Creating opportunities to check in with the friendship group to see how they are coping.
  • Setting up a system for friends to share any concerns they have about their bereaved friend – changes in behaviour, emotional outbursts, withdrawing from the group etc.