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Back to School


As we prepare for children and young people to start returning to school tomorrow, we know anxieties and stress levels will be high, with some students returning to their school or college for the first time, having experienced the death of someone close.

Children who have been bereaved during this time period may not have been able to access support in the usual way from their wider support network. They may not have had opportunities to communicate with their friends and other trusted adults outside of their immediate family. They may not have been able to take part in funerals and have missed out on opportunities to say good-bye to a loved one. Parents may not know how to support their children or teenagers as they begin a new chapter, and who may be not talking at home.

We are here to help. Here are some tips from Stacey Hart, Grief Encounter Trauma Specialist, on helping support children and young people at they return to school.

  • Talk

Keep conversations open, make time to chat to your child about how they might be feeling, any anxieties and worries, and allow them time to talk about anything they want to – without judgement. Encourage talking to a professional; we are here to listen, now. Our free, confidential helpline is manned by trained professionals, available to give advice, support and a listening ear. Call us anytime between 9am – 9pm weekdays on 0808 802 0111, or log on to our website (link in bio) for instant web chat.

  • Preparation

Give your children an idea of what school may look like now, explain that it may feel different, but it is still the same nurturing environment they are used to. Perhaps show them a video of their new classroom, or pictures explaining where their new desks will be. Ask school for further support if needed. Make sure your child is fully prepared for their new school day, and any changes of routine that may be happening, like earlier mornings, or changes in who would pick up/drop off.

  • Reassure

Reassure that transitions are tricky, and everyone is adjusting to a new normal. They are not the only ones, and everyone will understand. Try not to put pressure on them, they will adjust in their own time.

  • Staying safe

Make sure your children know how to appropriately use masks and wash their hands properly. Explain that new rules are in place at school, and handwashing and social distancing, not sharing etc. is important to keep everyone safe.

What to do if your family has been bereaved through Covid-19

  • Email the school to prepare them, and let them know how your child is coping, and any extra help they may need.
  • Do not put pressure on them to appear that they are OK, it’s healthy to experience emotions, and it’s ok to show them.
  • The world is a more scary place now, reassurance is key; school should and can be a safe space for them, full of people who want to help and listen.
  • Keep conversations open, make time to chat to your child about how they might be feeling, any anxieties and worries.
  • Be there at the end of the school day to help them process the experience of going back to school.
  • Seek professional help if you feel worried about your child

If you are a teacher and worried about a pupil, or would like advice about how your school/college could benefit from bereavement training, drop us a line on stacey.hart@griefencounter.org.uk.