Things to consider

Personality and background

Every pupil is a unique individual. Consider the following questions:

  • How old is the pupil and what is their stage of development? What is their understanding of death?
  • What is the pupil's personality?
  • Has the pupil experienced a death or other losses before?
  • How does the pupil act and communicate within the family?
  • What is the family‚Äôs culture?


How the pupil felt about the person who died will colour how they feel. Consider the following:

  • What was the nature of the relationship before the person died? This can be a complex question. Even if the relationship wasn't a good one, the pupil will still grieve since now they will have lost the chance of having the kind of relationship they wanted with that person.
  • What did this person mean to the pupil and what role did they play?

Circumstances of the death

A pupil's response will be affected by the nature of the death. Consider the following questions:

  • What were the circumstances surrounding the death? Expected? Sudden? Violent? The nature of the death does not make the situation better or worse - it just makes it different.
  • What was the cause of death? Might the pupil worry that this could happen again, or to them?
  • Did the pupil witness what happened?
  • To what extent was the pupil informed, included and involved?

Support environment

Consider what support the pupil has available in their home and community? Consider the following questions:

  • What is the impact of this loss on the family unit? How stable is family life after the loss?
  • Does the pupil come from a complex family set-up?
  • What support networks does the pupil have available?
  • What role did the person fulfil for the pupil?
  • What is the reaction of other family members to the death?

Video and linked quotes