Support available varies from school to school. Heartbreaking stories abound about how a lack of support and understanding can add to children's anguish. One little boy at primary school whose solider dad was killed in Afghanistan was refused permission to take in his medal, because it was feared it would upset his classmates.
At parents' evening I was taken aback when a teacher began to tell me he felt one of my daughters was 'letting herself down' by not concentrating fully in lessons recently. As this came around a month after Neil died, I had no hesitation in butting in and telling him that as far as I was concerned, her getting out of bed and making it to school was enough of an achievement for me and cough, she most certainly wasn't "letting herself down".
"My mum rocks," she announced later and for once I took a compliment. I felt it was important for me to politely say to the teacher "let me stop you there," and important that my daughters saw me do that too. I'm affected by an inability to concentrate much four months on so the thought of them being reprimanded for that so early on was upsetting.
But overall I have to say that my family's experience of help at school has been hugely positive. Both my daughters' form tutors, their head of year and their headteacher have been very supportive, patient and understanding.
Their on-going support and readiness to work with others has really made a difference and brought me genuine peace of mind that my daughters continue to find school a lovely place.
But it's such a shame that the support available is so variable at a time of such agony and can have a profound and far-reaching effect on the lives of so many children. Teachers need to be aware of the unique needs of bereaved children and recognise the challenges they may bring to the classroom, learning about how best to respond to them. That's where training from Winston's Wish can be so vital.
Have you got an example you can share of how your children were treated at school when they had lost someone so very close? (This isn't for the purposes of my article, I'd just love to hear from other parents about their experiences as I'd love to see it discussed more.)
I'd welcome any comments on this, named or anonymous and would like to possibly use the responses in a future blog post to help others. Thank you for reading.