Death and dying: a systematic review into approaches used to support bereaved children

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Background: Supporting, caring for and working with bereaved children is both daunting and challenging, yet not much is known about how schools can help children to cope with death and dying. The main objective of this study was to identify approaches used to support children who are grieving and explore implications for teachers. The use of retrospective autoethnography sets out this review as a practitioner enquiry-based project. Methods: A systematic review of literature involving school-aged children was undertaken. The focus of these studies was on approaches – viewed by children, parents and teachers – which helped children cope having recently been bereaved. The studies all relate to children aged 3-18. Four databases were searched up to and including Spring 2019: British Education Index; Child Development & Adolescent Studies; ERIC; and PsycINFO. The included studies were analysed using a qualitative enquiry model which draws on metaethnography. Results: Abstracts and titles were examined of seven hundred and sixty-five articles. Following the selection process, 15 studies were included. All of the studies were peer-reviewed, published after 2000 and used qualitative methods of data collection (interviews, ethnographies, a case-study and observations). Encouraging children to openly communicate, find comfort in various ways and express emotion regularly were the most common approaches. Conclusion: The results indicate that if approaches are taken, children can feel supported during a challenging and fearful time in their lives. Future research is required on the effects of specific teacher-led approaches in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-479
Number of pages28
JournalReview of Education
Issue number2
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • death
  • bereavement
  • children
  • education
  • teacher-led approaches bereavement support approaches


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