Revisiting grief

A bereaved pupil has been doing well in school but suddenly shows signs of being angry, anxious or tearful. The death happened years ago so the pupil must be “over it” by now.


  • Grief does not go away, and it does not have a time limit.
  • The pupil may be revisiting the death with a more mature understanding, and only just realising the full impact of their loss and the implications for their future.
  • Many people may be saying, “You should be ‘over it’ by now.”
  • The pupil may have unanswered questions about the death, but they do not think there is anyone they can talk to.
  • At home, the person who died may not be mentioned; it may seem that everyone else has “moved on”, causing a bereaved pupil to question their feelings.

What might help:

  • Acknowledge this change in behaviour and offer opportunities to talk, ask questions and take time out.
  • Reassure a pupil that this is a normal response to a death, even if it happened a long time ago.
  • Use Tonkin’s model to demonstrate how the grief remains with them, even though they have built their life around it.