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Counsellor’s Corner: Loss and Grief

I remember when Queen Elizabeth II attended the opening ceremony of our very own Queen Elizabeth Theatre at the International School Aberdeen in 2013. Despite having a busy schedule, she took the time to talk with individual students and staff and gave us the opportunity to see a person who truly models perseverance, both personally and in her public life.

Last night during the Middle/High School open house, our student ambassadors were helping parents find their classrooms for the annual teacher talks about the curriculum. In the midst of these evening school events, news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing became public.

The student ambassadors immediately huddled together, asking, what will happen now? What does this mean? Mr. Little commented that we’ll find out more soon. The student ambassadors had empathy for the loss of such an important public figure, and they knew that this was a time to be respectful of what was to come.

Loss and grief during developmental years can look differently depending on the circumstances, close family friend or public figure, but regardless of the differences, our children feel empathy towards important life events such as these.

Child Mind Institute excels in combining wellbeing with research, and their resources are valuable on many topics. In discussing how to cope with grief, they offer developmentally appropriate resources to help us have nurturing discussions with our children about difficult topics. It’s also important to remember that:

  • Children grieve differently than adults
  • It’s normal and okay to talk about sadness and grief
  • It’s okay to listen and help them process at an appropriate developmental level - children are often dealing with this for the first time and don’t have the background of life experiences to fall back on like we do as adults
  • It’s healthy to do something in remembrance (donating to a cause, planting a tree, etc).

Winston's Wish, a charity who support bereaved children, also offer some practical advice for talking with children about the Queen's death.

Please reach out if we can help further with resources.

Warm regards,

Valerie DeGraw

School Counsellor

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