Special Education

Responding To Critical Incidents

Appendix 2 - Guidelines for a Grief Support Group

In some instances, schools may decide to set up a grief support group which will meet on a longer term basis following the death of a student or other person in the school community. Other schools may choose to call on community agencies to provide this service. The following suggestions are designed for schools who wish to establish their own grief support groups. When counselling staff decide to set up a group of students to meet together, they might want to consider focusing on some of the following topics:

  • Assuring the students that it is normal to have feelings of anger, guilt or fear,
  • Planning acceptable activities to respond following a death such as appropriate ways of communicating with the family of the deceased,
  • Encouraging students to recall personal memories and in particular positive experiences involving the person who died,
  • Sharing feelings about how this death connects to other losses in their lives,
  • Discussing the stages of grieving, and
  • Encouraging students to involve their peers who may need support and/or counselling.

Grief group meetings should be brought to a close when appropriate. Some students may need continued individual counselling on a one-to-one basis. The group may need to reconvene for a brief meeting if future events require it. In some instance the anniversary of a critical incident calls for such a meeting.

Additional support may need to be arranged for some members of the group to get ongoing support. Throughout the life of the grief support group, facilitators need to identify students with chronic problems around the issue of suicide or other self-destructive behaviours and obtain additional services to meet their more serious needs.

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