How can you look after yourself?
Being self-aware is an asset for anyone working in a school environment.
You need to be in a good place yourself, emotionally, in order to support bereaved pupils. Ways to look after yourself:
- Talk to friends and colleagues: Share feelings and experiences to help you feel less alone.
- Informal peer support in the staffroom: Talk though issues and concerns.
- Anticipate an emotional reaction: It is perfectly normal to be emotionally affected.
- Be self-aware: You need to feel reasonably strong yourself to support others, and you may become aware of previous losses in your own life that have resurfaced.
- Speak up: If it all feels too close to home, don't be afraid to say so. This is not a sign of weakness, but positive recognition that we all have our limits.
- Maintain professional boundaries: When working in a school environment, it is very easy to let the carer in us take over.
- Be proactive: Have contact details of bereavement organisations to support a grieving family. The Child Bereavement UK Helpline 0800 02 888 40 provides confidential listening, guidance and support for professionals as well as families. Our website www.childbereavementuk.org gives information on our support services as well as other support organisations available in your area.
- Look after colleagues: Try to find the time to ask how they are and check in with them from time to time.
- Take time for yourself: Do something just for you or give yourself a treat. Physical exercise is a great stress buster.
- Be aware: You cannot carry their grief for them, but you can share their journey by being there and being aware.