Childhood Traumatic Grief Resources for Educators
Coping with the death of a significant person is especially difficult for children. Their reactions depend on the child's age, developmental level, previous life experiences, emotional health, cognitive ability, and family and support system. Educators and school personnel can play a crucial role in helping students following a death that affects an individual child or the whole school community. Following the death of a significant person, the student may develop traumatic reactions in response to reminders of the event. The death may have been sudden and unexpected (e.g., through violence or an accident) or anticipated (e.g., resulting from an illness). These reactions can adversely affect learning and behavior, such as difficulty concentrating or negative death-related thoughts and emotions. Certain topics, various sounds, or situations in the classroom might “trigger” reminders of the deceased person or the traumatic nature of the death. Feelings of sadness and anger can affect a child’s ability to get along with peers, upsetting his or her participation and performance in academics and other activities. Insensitive comments by peers can make children with traumatic grief feel even more alone and upset, further interfering with classroom management. School staff can be invaluable in understanding their grieving students, being sensitive to their needs, creating a supportive environment for the student and parents, and recognizing when to consult with or refer to a mental health professional.
The NCTSN has listed below many CTG resources and materials for educators to learn how to help children and teens reacting to a traumatic death in the school setting.
- NCTSN Resources for Educators
- Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma: Child Traumatic Grief Webinar Speaker Series
Child Traumatic Grief Educational Materials: For School Personnel (2004) (PDF)
This resource presents information for school personnel in two formats: a seven-page in-depth narrative and a one-page, two-sided handout.
Helping Youth after a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (PDF)
This resource describes the feelings of teens after a tragic community event and ways you can help with those feelings.
Helping Military Children with Traumatic Grief: Tip Sheet for Educators (PDF)
This product offers information on the feelings of military children dealing with trauma and grief responses and how you can help them.
Ready to Remember: Jeremy's Journey of Hope and Healing (PDF)
Ready to Remember tells the story of a 10-year-old boy following the tragic death of his father. Jeremy has reactions to traumatic reminders, and he struggles at school and at home. Developed for the school-age reader, with a caregiver guide, the illustrated book describes Jeremy's journey as he and his family get help and are able to enjoy happy memories together.
Sibling Death and Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Families (2009) (PDF)
This publication offers caregivers information about the particular grief reactions that a child may have when a brother or sister dies and provides tips to help the grieving child. It includes an extensive listing of books—organized by age of the intended audience—websites, and videos. Sibling Death and Childhood Traumatic Grief also offers self-care advice for caregivers to help them cope with their grief reactions.
Childhood Traumatic Grief: Issues and Interventions Related to Military Children
In this webinar, Heather Campagna and Robin Goodman address child traumatic grief within the context of a military family, including why a military death is different, the use of TF-CBT, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
Cultural and Contextual Considerations in the Treatment of Childhood Traumatic Grief
In this webinar, Chandra Ghosh Ippen and Susana Rivera discuss culture, context, and perspective as related to the treatment of child traumatic grief. Questions addressed include “Does the child need treatment?” “How is death experience affected by cultural and contextual factors?” and “How is the experience influenced by family values?”
Grief, Loss, and the Path of Healing among American Indian Youth and Communities
Webinar presenters—two clinicians who are native to Montana tribes and two non-native clinicians who have worked in an American Indian community—discuss the unique experience of loss and grief of American Indian children and communities, review death and loss within an intergenerational context, and teach participants about grounding interventions, assessments, and research in culture and community. Presenters demonstrate how to adapt interventions to accommodate culture and evaluate instruments for cultural effectiveness.
Growing Up with Traumatic Grief
In this webinar, speakers address child traumatic grief and loss through the experience of a young woman whose parent died in a tragic accident. Presenters provide a knowledge base for individuals in systems that serve children, adolescents, and their families who have experienced traumatic grief, including parents, teachers, child welfare workers, resource parents, caregivers, and mental health providers.
Holidays, Celebrations and Traumatically Bereaved Children
Webinar presenters discuss ways holidays and other personally meaningful dates can serve as trauma/grief reminders, including how culture can dictate children's reactions to reminders and the need for therapists to understand their clients' culture. The presentation also addresses personal, public, and school-related reminders, and the presenters offer ways parents, teachers, and other adults can support traumatically bereaved children.
Ready to Remember: Helping Children with Traumatic Grief
Webinar presenters describe childhood traumatic grief and introduce their book, Ready to Remember: Jeremy’s Journey of Hope and Healing. Along with the authors, family members answer questions about the experience of processing their grief, the treatment they received, and the coping skills and resilience of their families.
Schools and Grief: Helping Students Cope with Death
In this webinar, presenters focus on childhood grief in the school setting: physical and behavioral responses, the effects of development and culture, and the difference between CTG and grief. Presenters also provide strategies for helping children cope with grief in school.grief. Presenters also provide strategies for helping children cope with grief in school.
Treatment of Childhood Traumatic Grief with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Webinar presenter, Chandra Ghosh Ippen provides an overview of the effects on clinicians of working with bereaved children. She discusses loss from the child and caregivers' perspectives, details how traumatic grief effects development, and describes assessment and treatment options.
You are Not Alone: Helping Children with Traumatic Grief
In this webinar, presenters explain traumatic grief in preschool- and school-aged children, introduce resources for children and caregivers developed by Sesame Workshop and the NCTSN, and describe how clinicians and caregivers can use these resources to help children in their process of grieving.