Bereavement: How Guidance Counsellors Can Support The Grieving Student
Death is inevitable and universal, therefore, it is necessary for anyone who works with students to be prepared to offer help to those who experience bereavement naturally, suddenly, or traumatically. Indeed, help is sometimes required in advance of bereavement, in that a student may be ‘anticipating’ the death of a significant person in their life (e.g., parent in hospice care). It is estimated that between 36,000 and 60,000 young people in Ireland have experienced a significant bereavement (McLoughlin, 2012). As the role of the Guidance Counsellor is pivotal in supporting students who have been bereaved, as well as their peers and the rest of the school community, this article provides a review of the salient information that is useful to a Guidance Counsellor in their planning to provide immediate and on-going support.
The article begins with a discussion of the definitional differences between types of bereavement and followed by an overview of the theoretical foundations of bereavement and grief, showing how the topic has altered over time, reflecting societal changes. Subsequently, attention is directed towards a review of research that has explored the nature, incidence, and correlates of bereavement among students.
Critical to the work of the school-based Guidance Counsellor is the policy framework that guides their work. The article overviews policy documentation that is useful in planning for bereavement provision and support services for students. To conclude, attention is directed towards curricula materials, programmes and resources that are available to help Guidance Counsellors in this important work.