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The Importance of Staff Development on Grief and Loss in Schools

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Trainings for Educators on Grief and Loss

Grief and loss are universal experiences that can profoundly impact students and their families. 1 in 12 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they turn 18 years old. This number does not include all of the other losses a student may face. In the school setting, teachers and staff members play a pivotal role in supporting students through their grief journeys. To ensure effective and compassionate support, it is essential to provide staff development on grief and loss. Teachers and even counselors did not receive the necessary education on children and grief in their undergraduate or graduate programs and may feel ill-equipped to support grieving students.

The article will explore why it is crucial to invest in staff development in this area and what benefits it brings to both school personnel and grieving students.

1. Enhanced Understanding and Empathy:

Staff development on grief and loss equips school personnel with the knowledge and understanding necessary to navigate these sensitive and complex topics. It deepens their awareness of the impact of loss on students' academic performance, emotional well-being, and overall development. With this understanding, teachers and staff can approach grieving students with empathy, compassion, and sensitivity, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.

2. Recognizing Signs of Grief and Loss:

Grief can manifest in various ways, and its signs may not always be obvious. Staff development provides school personnel with the tools to recognize the signs of grief and loss in students. This includes changes in behavior, academic performance, social interactions, and emotional well-being. By being attuned to these signs, educators can intervene early and provide appropriate support to grieving students.

3. Implementing Effective Support Strategies:

Staff development empowers school personnel to implement effective support strategies for grieving students. This may include developing individualized bereavement plans, creating safe spaces for expression, understanding the impact of trauma, facilitating peer support networks, and collaborating with mental health professionals. Equipped with evidence-based practices, teachers and staff can provide meaningful support that promotes healing and resilience in grieving students.

4. Building Trust and Relationships:

Providing staff development on grief and loss strengthens the bond between school personnel and students. When educators demonstrate understanding and offer appropriate support, they build trust and rapport with grieving students. This trust is essential for students to feel safe and comfortable in sharing their emotions and seeking help when needed. Strong relationships facilitate student well-being and enhance the overall school climate.

5. Mitigating Secondary Trauma:

Working with grieving students can be emotionally challenging for teachers and staff members. Staff development on grief and loss includes self-care strategies and techniques for managing their own emotional well-being. By equipping school personnel with these tools, they can effectively support students while mitigating the risk of experiencing secondary trauma themselves. This promotes the sustainability and well-being of the entire school community.

7. Long-Term Impact:

Investing in staff development on grief and loss has long-term benefits for both school personnel and students. The knowledge and skills gained through professional development workshops and training sessions can be applied not only to support grieving students but also to create a culture of empathy and understanding within the school community. This culture of support extends beyond individual cases of grief, benefiting students for years to come.

Providing staff development on grief and loss is essential for fostering a supportive and compassionate school environment. Center for Informed Grief is available both in person and virtually to provide staff development trainings on grief and loss. To find out more, contact Kelly Daugherty at

Investing in staff development empowers educators to navigate the complexities of grief and loss, ultimately promoting healing, resilience, and well-being within the school community.

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