3rd October 2022
Many young people are affected by bereavement or loss at some point in their school lives, whether a friend or family member, especially grand parents. Suitable opportunities to remember and celebrate are often very limited but, in our experience, young people appreciate the way this activity gives them that space and focus in a public setting as part of school life.
We have linked this with Remembrance Day and usually run the activity for a week around 11th November. This connection is not intended to diminish the significance of Remembrance Day but to increase understanding and awareness by connecting more young people to the reality of bereavement and the value of remembering the lives of others.
We have found that after the week some schools and colleges like the activity to be left in place for another week.
This activity has been run on the public concourse of our Sixth Form College, and in a section of a school library. This makes it available during free time, break or lunch time. This is not run as part of a lesson programme. There is other material available for lessons on bereavement and loss. We have, however, included it as one activity among many others within a prayer space which gives pupils the option of en gaging with it during a lesson if they wish.
It has also been run in a meeting room that is part of the pastoral support area in a school. In this latter case the remembrance activity stays up for the rest of the school year providing a place for newly bereaved students to come and leave a tangible memorial. The activity is removed at the end of the summer term and reinstated during remembrance week in November.
What you need
Any method that allows students, and staff, to record the name of someone who has died and then to display this with others will work, for example post it notes on a section of a notice board or wall set apart for the purpose. However, if you have other creative ways of doing this it can make the activity feel even more special for participants and adds to the visibility and impact of the project.
On the next page are some illustrated examples.
Inevitably this activity creates a significant pastoral impact for many pupils. It is always best to have someone available, ideally in a chaplaincy or pastoral role, to explain the activity and be there to support pupils who are deeply affected.
White camouflage net and coloured ribbons – Students write a name on the ribbon with a Sharpie pen and tie it into the net.
Cardboard tree – (this was for a shop display in Tesco. We asked if we could have the tree after the promotion had finished.)
Cut out shapes (using a flower shape punch or printed leaf shapes on card) with holes top and bottom linked together with treasury tags.
This was set up for a week in a school library.
Remembrance Meadow banner – tributes and memories written on flower and butterfly shapes cut from fabric.
Ribbons – hung from the ceiling and using cut out poppies or flower shapes (we bought a flower shape punch from a craft supplier). Seen here in an atrium / refectory space and in the pastoral room mentioned above.
The Empty Chair – symbolising the space someone leaves in our lives when they die, students write onto luggage tags and leave them on the ‘empty chair’.