This morning I worked with an elementary class that is coping with the recent loss of a peer.
We started the session off with a choice of a Beanie Baby as a comfort item. The class was filled with laughter and tiny voices as they shared their Beanie Baby names and “ their ancient birthdates, 1996”.
I then did some illness education on what caused their friend to become sick and die. There were lots of questions, and misconceptions were clarified.
The students then began to describe their friend and shared some wonderful memories. We wrote them down on the smart board. Some of the ones that stood out were “determined, courageous, kind, hilarious, and great friend.”
We talked about grief and what that was. Kids raised their hands when they identified with some of those big emotions. This helped them to feel validated and normalized that they weren’t the only ones experiencing it.
I then facilitated a painting memory-making rock activity. The kids came up with such creative ways to honor their friend.
Their classmate was a treasure collector. He had rocks, seashells, and character figurines. His wonderful family allowed his classmates to choose some of these items as a keepsake. This part of the session made my heart just melt. They carefully found the items that they wanted and shared them with each other.
We wrapped up our session by coming up with coping ideas for their grief. We added them to the smart board. I also provided the class with a Worry Deposit Box.
I appreciate the love and support that this school provides to its students and families. They knew how important it was to address their grief and find a supportive space to express it.
Grief and Loss: A Guide for Caregivers