Solas guide teachers in supporting bereaved children

The Solas Cancer Support Centre has developed a professional development course that will be rolled out in Waterford Primary Schools over the coming months. The aim of this free education programme is to guide teachers in supporting bereaved children in their schools and classrooms.

Course facilitator Brid Carroll has developed this 9-hour training module. Brid is a qualified Psychotherapist and Counselling Supervisor with a special interest in bereavement and loss. She holds a Masters in Bereavement Studies from RCSI Dublin and a Postgraduate Certificate in Childhood Bereavement from St. Christopher’s Hospice London.  She is a contributor to the Irish Hospice Foundation’s workshop series and is Co-ordinator of their Professional Certificate in Children and Loss.

With Brid’s wide range of experience around bereavement she understands the important role teachers can play- ‘Teachers are a huge part of the natural support network of a bereaved child. They are in the wonderful position to listen with their eyes, ears and heart and monitor any difficulties that may arise for the child.  In order to do this an understanding of children’s grief, empathic listen skills and an awareness of how to access resources to support these children is vital’

This online course aims to:

  • To develop the necessary skills to befriend and support a bereaved child in their school community.
  • To promote understanding of how grief affects children at various developmental stages.
  • To explore a child’s concept of death.
  • To gain awareness and understanding of a child within their family context.
  • To identify the signs that may indicate a child requires professional support.
  • To explore intervention tools that might be used in the classroom to allow for healthy conversations about grief and loss.
  • To offer knowledge of the theories and models that underpin bereavement and loss in children.

Tracy McDaid, Manager of the Solas Cancer Support Centre explains the background to developing this programme- ‘ A large part of our work  is around supporting clients who have been bereaved due to a cancer experience. In 2020 30% of our work was in the area of bereavement. School Principals and teachers often contact the service to ask for advice and resources around supporting bereaved children and it was from these engagements that we started to work on this project. We were pleased to receive funding for this project from the Rethink Ireland Child and Youth Fund and for Rethink Ireland to recognise the merits of this programme. While the Solas Cancer Support Centre supports people affected by loss and grief due to a cancer diagnosis, we do know that the learning outcomes of this course are relevant to bereavement regardless of the circumstances.’

Aileen Moriarty Deputy Principal of Waterpark National School, sees this course as an extremely important resource for Principals and Teachers (or for all staff in primary schools)- ‘this course will allow participants to develop the skills to support a bereaved child and their family in their school community and reinforce the theories and models that underpin bereavement and loss in children.’

The free online course will be delivered over two days and includes course materials and additional resources available following completion of the course. To register for the course or for further information please contact the Solas Cancer Support Centre on or 051 304604.

To find out further information click on 42.15 minutes on the Sunday Grill Podcast below.