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Support Services

Grief is a normal emotional response to loss. Whether one has lost a family member, friend or even a pet, our natural human response is one of grief and sadness. Our experience of grief will be affected by the whether the death was sudden or unexpected, the cause of the death, and our relationship to the person who died. Each person’s expression of grief is unique and there is no “right or wrong” way to grieve.
The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District has a supportive team of counselors, social workers, resources and referrals available to address the needs of students and staff. Several resources are listed below to assist families and community members. Also visit Community Resources for further resources.

Children and Grief
“If one is old enough to love, one is old enough to grieve.” - Alan D. Wolfelt
Just as adults grieve, so do children. A child’s grief experience will be based on their development and personality.

Grief & Loss: Twelve Ways to Help

  • Offer opportunities to talk about death and loss as they experience it in everyday life.
  • Include youth in rituals whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Share your expressions of sadness and pain.
  • Be available to listen.
  • Pay attention to a youth’s behavior and let them know when you notice a change.
  • Answer all questions about death and loss as honestly as possible.
  • Be willing to wonder and explore answers to their questions.
  • Face your own feelings of grief.
  • Do not isolate or insulate young people from grief. Remember grief is normal.
  • Continue to expect a young person to function. Be firm, yet gentle and kind.
  • Find help for youth who need it. Refer to support groups or counseling as needed.
  • Continue to be available over time Remember grief will be revisited throughout their lives. Reach out and continue to care, just as you are now!

Finding the Right Words

  • I am sorry for your pain.
  • I am sorry about (insert name)'s death, and I’d like to help in any way I can.
  • I am here for you whenever you need me.
  • I can’t know how you feel, but I want to help you in any way I can.

Expressions to Avoid

  • I understand/know how you feel.
  • Move on — get over it.
  • You must be over it by now.
  • You’re doing such a wonderful job!
  • It could be worse, you still have ….
  • You’ll be strong because of this.
  • ________ is in a better place.

SOURCE: The Consortium on Trauma, Illnesss and Grief in Schools.
Adapted from Laura Bray Harting, CSW (1995), The Center of Living with Loss.

Common Symptoms of Grief

Physical: Chest pains, stomach pains, headaches, & nausea are common. You may feel fatigue or have difficulty sleeping. Concentrating may not be easy & you might feel restless.

Emotional: Feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, relief, irritability and numbness are all normal. Strong feelings may come suddenly, without warning.

Social: During times of grief some people withdraw and lack interest to engage with others. Others become more dependent and do not want to be alone. You may also be more sensitive and experience stress in relationships.

Spiritual: Especially when a death was sudden or traumatic, it is not uncommon to question spiritual values or even lose faith. Some people also experience anger with or feel betrayal by God or their Spiritual Force.

Needs of a Grieving Child

SOURCE: The Consortium on Trauma, Illness & Grief in schools. For more information, please contact Samantha S. Colson Phone: (585) 753-2877

  • Grieve at your own pace. Be patient with yourself
  • Ask for and accept help when needed
  • Spend time with people who provide you with support
  • Eat, sleep and exercise regularly
  • Do something that you enjoy
  • Keep to a routine
  • Journal
  • If you follow a religious tradition, engage in mourning rituals and/or prayer
  • Crying at unexpected times
  • Physical complaints – stomachaches, headaches, fatigue
  • Retelling events of the deceased’s death & funeral
  • Difficulty concentrating at school
  • Needing to be near an adult all the time
  • Worrying about safety, other people getting sick or dying
  • Being angry at everybody and everything
  • Not talking about the deceased or loss at all
  • To be allowed to grieve
  • To have their loss acknowledged
  • Normalization of grief
  • Accurate information
  • Careful listening
  • Help with overwhelming feelings
  • Continued routine activities
  • Opportunities to remember