It is very important that you find ways to look after yourself if you are to most effectively support the pupils in your care and their families as well as the staff who are working with you. Here are some aspects to consider:
- Be aware of your own level of vulnerability. You need some vulnerability to be able to empathise with a bereaved pupil, but too much will leave you overwhelmed and depleted.
- Find ways to look after yourself – you may find it helpful to:
- Share feelings with your colleagues, friends or family.
- Anticipate that you might experience an emotional reaction. It’s perfectly normal and okay to be affected.
- Recognise that in order to help others, you need to feel reasonably strong yourself. You may become aware of previous losses in your own life that have resurfaced. 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.
- Remember your professional boundaries whilst retaining your sensitivity and understanding. Getting over involved is not helpful to yourself, your staff or your pupils.
- Have contact details of bereavement organisations available as this will enable you to feel that you have done something practical to support a grieving family outside the school environment. If you feel concerned about a pupil's level of distress, or the impact of their grief on their day to day functioning, put them in touch with people better able to offer the ongoing support they may need as a family. See the support organisations section of the CBUK website for information on what may be available in your local area.
- Find time to give yourself a treat.
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