Bereavement policy for schools: when a child loses a loved one suddenly

A new bereavement policy aims to help schools provide the best support to pupils dealing with the unexpected death of a loved one.

We are a charitable service that offers emotional and practical support to people bereaved unexpectedly, has produced the resource based on its learnings from working with children and young people during the pandemic, in conjunction with clinical psychologist Dr Laura Williams.

The policy aims to help schools support the emotional and physical wellbeing of suddenly bereaved pupils and their families, from the early days of an unexpected bereavement onward. It covers suggested procedures to enable schools to communicate and support pupils, and their families, before and after a child’s return to the classroom.

The document offers practical advice for schools, such as establishing a core group of staff responsible for communication with the family, suggestions around when and how to inform other pupils, and signposting appropriate training for teachers.

Mary Williams OBE, Sudden’s Chief Executive, said: “Sudden deaths leave us little or no time to say goodbye, causing immediate emotional and practical shock and turmoil. Although children and young people can find it particularly difficult, teachers can play a vital role in helping pupils through empathetic communication and a supported return to the classroom. We believe this new policy will help affected pupils cope with some of their darkest days.”

The new policy, along with other resources including free books for schools, can be viewed on Sudden’s website at

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For more information, please contact

Jason Wakeford: / 07909 775 408.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced sudden bereavement, Sudden can help. Call us on 0800 2600 400 or contact us at and we’ll arrange for a dedicated caseworker to call you back. We help from day one, onwards, for the first ten weeks of bereavement, when people are often in extreme need of care and support, suffering from shock and huge change in their lives.

Sudden is reliant on donations. We are a charity-run service. If you’d like to contribute to our crucial work, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, then please donate to Sudden. Sudden is run and hosted by Brake, the road safety charity.