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This content is taken from the The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust's online course, Grief, Loss, and Dying During COVID-19. Join the course to learn more.

Taking stock: recognising stress and grief as lockdown eases

The pandemic continues to evolve, as do global efforts to manage, prevent and contain the virus. Each of us will be challenged in some way and it is difficult to fully anticipate the long-term effects on people’s lives. What we do know is that those who have experienced loss and trauma will need time and support to recover, along with opportunities to acknowledge and grieve for what has been lost.

This article describes how one school in the UK is making plans to support bereaved pupils. It includes details of organisations offering support and guidance. Here is an excerpt:

Vic Goddard (head teacher) plans to reassure staff that they are not expected to be experts in bereavement. “As a community, it’s important that we understand that we can’t take the pain away. We don’t have magic wands. But what we can do is listen.

All staff are being trained in how to start conversations, face to face, with bereaved children. “We’ll see if the child wants to push the door open, or if they want to leave it closed. If they push it open, we’ll be there to talk to them. If they don’t, we will be there to notice how they’re coping.

At the same time, there will be staff returning to school after being ill or bereaved themselves, while others will be feeling anxious about catching Covid-19 and passing it on to family members.

Staff are coming back in and having to deal with lots of stuff they’re not used to, while also dealing with their own issues. We are going to have to support each other, and notice that sometimes this colleague has had enough; they’ve reached the wall themselves.

A counselling service is being offered to all staff and that will continue when school returns fully in September. He will also encourage his colleagues to share the burden they face by working together to offer their pupils support.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about “new normals” - social distancing, the wearing of face mask - will recognising vulnerability and stress in ourselves and others become a new normal?

The next step offers some simple yet important principles for helping others.

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This article is from the free online course:

Grief, Loss, and Dying During COVID-19

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

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