Practice / Intervention

Helping Children Cope with Loss: Legacy Interventions for the Grieving Classroom



Early experiences of death and loss have a significant impact on children’s coping and development across the lifespan, whether the deceased was a family member, friend, or even classmate. Given the sense of community and continuity that children often garner in schools, teachers are uniquely positioned to tailor and facilitate grief supports to meet the developmental and coping needs of their students in response to loss, especially in the case of a classmate’s death. Legacy building interventions, though healthcare-derived, have internationally been applied to promote self-expression and meaning making for grieving children and families; the underlying theory and practice of such interventions may render them useful even in classroom environments. Combining art-based activities with storytelling and reflection, legacy building activities may promote awareness and understanding of death in children and adolescents while encouraging adaptive grief responses. This paper describes how teachers may apply legacy building interventions to support students experiencing the death of a classmate. Two sample curricular plans are provided, one targeted towards elementary school children, the other towards middle and high school students. Although these resources appear ready for immediate implementation, it is essential that teachers adapt them – based on their unique classroom, school system, and sociocultural context – to best meet the needs of grieving students.


  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 92–100
  • DOI: 10.5334/cie.45
  • Submitted on 5 Feb 2022
  • Accepted on 28 May 2022
  • Published on 5 Sep 2022
  • Peer Reviewed