Experiences of Grieving Students
During the Pandemic
All children grieve in unique ways ("children" here refers to all K-12 students). Most also share a number of common characteristics. Many elements of the COVID-19 pandemic further intensify these characteristics. For example:
Grieving children often experience academic challenges. It is difficult to concentrate during acute grief. In this pandemic, with educators as well as students learning how to work remotely, academic challenges are also common.
Grieving children are frightened about their own health or that of people close to them. They often worry that they or loved ones might die. In this pandemic, such things may actually happen.
Grieving children feel isolated. Friends and even educators sometimes withdraw, not knowing what to say or do. In the COVID-19 world, physical distancing and school closures exacerbate isolation.
Grieving families feel overwhelmed. They may find it difficult to manage simple daily tasks—shopping, cooking, cleaning. During COVID-19, few families have not also experienced feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of the pandemic.
Grieving children experience secondary losses. Many things can change for a child after a death. The family may need to move in with relatives or find less expensive housing. The child may have to attend a new school. In this pandemic with its associated financial challenges, many families are having to make exactly these kinds of changes.
Cumulative loss is especially challenging. Children do not "get used to" multiple losses. In fact, they become more sensitized to death. Some neighborhoods have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students have lost family members, friends, and teachers. Their entire community is grieving.