Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Voices that want to be heard: Using bereaved Danish students suggestions to update school bereavement response plans

Journal title
Death studies
Publication year
2018
Author(s)
Lytje, M.
Pages
254-267
Volume
42
Number
4

This study explored how Danish students experienced returning to school following parental bereavement. Eighteen focus group interviews were conducted with 39 participants aged 9 to 17. All participants had experienced the loss of a primary caregiver. Data collection was divided into two phases. In Phase I, 22 participants from four grief groups were interviewed 4 times over the course of a year. During Phase II, confirmatory focus groups were undertaken with the 17 participants. This article explores the findings related to ideas and suggestions made by the students about how the Danish school response could be improved to better meet their needs. The presentation of data is divided into seven themes, which are: Desired school response; Desired support from teachers; Desired boundaries between students and teachers; Desired collaboration; Desired support from peers; Desired rules and structure, and; Desires related to gifts and rituals. Study findings indicate that most students want to be included and have a say when the school plans how to respond to their loss. Students further highlight a need for teacher support when having to reconnect with the class; a need for set rules in relation to leaving the class when feeling sad, and; a need for schools to see the loss as a life-changing event, and grief as something that does not simply disappear after a few months. The article concludes by discussing the ways in which the recommendations provided by the participants can be incorporated into a modern revision of Danish school bereavement response plans.

Research abstracts