Acknowledging loss and bereavement in education settings

  Created together with Education Support Partnership 


Acknowledging loss and bereavement in education settings

This set of tips from our international panel of experts and adapted for education staff are intended to help staff to:

  • understand the impacts of loss and bereavement on themselves and colleagues
  • use this understanding to respond with patience and compassion
  • know that loss and bereavement are universal human experiences
  • support their education setting as a place where staff can support each other through loss and bereavement, and in so doing build resilience together

There are two main sections; ‘things to do’ and ‘things to know’.  Use this resource as works for you. The headline tips give rapid access advice, the drop downs beneath each tip provide more detail.


Loss and bereavement are normal but can be very difficult events in life. There is no rule book for facing loss or managing the death of someone close to you. Bereavement is personal and each person has to find their own way to make sense of loss and death. However, the way others support us when we are bereaved can make a real difference to how we manage.


In our education settings, bereavements can impact from multiple domains of school life including:

  • Pupils’/students’ bereavement from the loss of a family member/friend/teacher
  • Staff experiencing bereavement of a family member/friend/colleague or following other major losses such as miscarriage of a pregnancy
  • The death of a pupil/student within the school community
  • The death of a member of staff within your school community
  • For some staff and pupils alike, loss of a much-loved pet is also a significant bereavement


Loss without death

Things to do

These tips are written for your personal loss or bereavement, but they can all be adapted if you need to help others with their own grief.

Acknowledge and allow yourself your feelings and thoughts at times of loss

It can help to find an image for your grief – this technique is called visualisation

Developing a narrative to support your journey of grief or loss may be helpful

Coping with the death of someone we care for is usually an emotional experience

Feeling angry is normal, staying angry can be a problem for you and those around you

Actions you can take: memory making is important

‘Coping too well’ is not a thing

There is no ‘good time’ to stop grieving: grief is not linear

Grieving can be hard when you are surrounded by people and children with their own immediate needs in an education setting

You can expect the team in your education setting to support you at this time

Take time to learn about bereavement and grief when you are not overwhelmed with such feelings yourself

Bereavement has often been complicated by the pandemic

Things to know 

Remember your own needs



For some colleagues, loss is made more complex by other characteristics or vulnerabilities, such as;

Some warning signs that a person may need extra help

Most people will be able to continue their personal and work responsibilities, but that doesn’t take away from how painful this process can be.

Further Resources

For yourself and for those in your education community


To find Bereavement Support near you 

Wellbeing for Education Return Webinars

Other support groups and caring organisations you may find helpful include:


The content for these tips was written and edited by Dr Raphael Kelvin and Dr Julie Greer. They draw upon the suite of tips on the MindEd Hub and input from our reference groups of healthcare and education setting experts, to whom we are most grateful.

Education Reference Group: John Dexter, John Ivens, Margaret Mulholland, Steve Rippin, Jason Turner

Wider Stakeholder Group: Sinéad Mc Brearty, Faye McGuinness, Joanna Holmes, Lisa Shostack, Mina Fazel, Andy Bell, Ray McMorrow, Sarah Hannifan, James Brown, DFE (Emma Woodshaw), Sarah Lyons, Steve Cooper

© 2022 Education Support Limited, MindEd / Royal College of Psychiatrists and Health Education


This document provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this document, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this document or in any linked materials. If you think you may have an emergency, call an appropriate source of help and support such as your doctor or emergency services immediately.

MindEd is created by a group of organisations and is funded by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education.

© 2023 NHS England, MindEd Programme 

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