Looking after yourself

"If you’re not looking after yourself, you can’t look after anybody else."

Supporting bereaved pupils can be emotionally challenging. Seeing young people and colleagues upset may feel overwhelming, particularly if you are managing your own grief.

It is important to assess how vulnerable you are feeling, depending on what is happening for you personally at a particular time. For example, you may be experiencing a loss such as divorce or separation, you may be managing a medical condition yourself or know someone who is ill, or you might have a child of the same age. Whatever your own circumstances, it will be helpful to be honest with colleagues about what you are able to offer in terms of support, or whether you may need to access support yourself. It is important to remember that seeking support is a sign of strength and not a weakness.

Experiencing an emotional reaction when working with a pupil can be a natural response when empathising with their experience, witnessing their grief or relating it to your own life. Acknowledge this reaction, reassure the pupil by letting them know that you will be OK in a short while, and make sure you seek support afterwards and let your colleagues know what happened. Although you may think this is not professional, it shows a young person that you are human and can help them by modelling an expected reaction to something that is sad, or difficult.

Being honest about how you are feeling and talking to colleagues can be really helpful. Consider how you could create a more supportive environment by offering to share a pot of tea, joining someone for a walk, or just checking in with someone who is supporting a bereaved pupil.

Further links:

Supporting yourself and your colleagues