How can we teach death, grief and bereavement in schools?

Inform parents and carers before teaching a lesson on death and grief; ask about any previous bereavements, which may help to identify potential vulnerabilities.

For any bereaved pupils, talk to them in advance to prepare them for the lesson, and offer them the option to attend for all, part or none of it.

Create a safe environment for all pupils:

  • With no pressure to talk about personal experiences, unless they wish to.
  • Somewhere quiet for pupils to go to if they are affected by the content of the lesson.
  • Have an adult available to support vulnerable pupils, during and after the lesson, if they feel upset.
  • Tell them where they can get further help and support.

Lessons can:

  • Offer an opportunity for pupils to ask questions
  • Dispel myths and explore euphemisms
  • Develop emotional vocabulary
  • Build resilience
  • Recognise the importance of empathy

The Elephant’s Tea Party is a free resource, developed by Child Bereavement UK, to teach primary and lower secondary school pupils about the topics of death and grief in an age-appropriate and sensitive way.