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Understanding Grief

The Grieving Middle School Student

Middle school students are frequently experiencing a great deal of turmoil due to the physical and hormonal changes in their bodies. Grieving students must deal with the additional stress of the grief process. Because of the many physical changes, pre-adolescents tend to have a variety of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, sleep disturbances, and changes in eating patterns. They generally experience a range of emotional reactions. In addition, they may be beginning to get their primary support from friends rather than family, as in the past. The normal process of moving away from family towards friends for support is altered when a death impacts them. They often become confused about how and from whom they can get their support. Although pre-teen students are much more verbal and cognitively process information at a higher level, physical outlets are still very important to the pre-teen student. They comprehend that death is final and unavoidable. This may provoke feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and may increase risk-taking behaviors. These students are apt to exhibit concerns about the survivors and what their future holds.


Common Behaviors Related to Grief:

  • Argumentative  

  • Withdrawal, sullenness  

  • Anger, fighting  

  • Sleepiness  

  • Lack of concentration and attentiveness  

  • Risk-taking behaviors (drugs, sexual acting out, stealing)

  • Unpredictable ups and downs or moodiness  

  • Erratic, inconsistent reactions  

  • Expect and accept mood swings  


Some Helpful Supports:

  • Provide a supportive environment where the student can share, when needed  

  • Anticipate increased physical concerns including illness and body aches and pains  

  • Allow the student to choose with whom and how he/she gets support  

  • Encourage participation in a support group  

  • Allow flexibility in completing school work


If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to our counselors.


Work Cited:


Placer County Community Grief and Loss Resources



Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center:

Committed to being a beacon of hope in the community, standing beside people in need and letting them know they are not alone.

Phone: 916-645-3300

Address: 427 A Street, Suite 400, Lincoln, CA 95648


Sutter Health/Grief/Bereavement Groups:

Free Grief Support Groups & Children’s Bereavement Art Groups

Phone: 916-797-7900

Address: 1836 Sierra Gardens Drive, Suite 120, Roseville, CA 95661


Placer County Network of Care:

A free, collaborative, online resource designed to connect individuals and families with resources and health information.


Hearts and Hands Counseling:

A non-profit counseling agency created to provide the community with access to safe, low-cost counseling services. They offer confidential and supportive counseling to individuals, couples, families, and children, based on income and ability to pay.

Phone: 916-676-3548

Address: 420 Folsom Road, Roseville, CA 95678


Insights Counseling Group:

Promoting healing and growth through psychotherapy, education and creative outlets.

Phone: 530-887-1300

Address: 263 Nevada Station, Auburn, CA 95603

  8207 Sierra College Blvd., Suite 510, Roseville, CA


Sierra Mental Wellness Group Auburn:

Provides individual and family counseling services, including: Comprehensive Outpatient Mental Health Counseling and Assessments for children, adolescents and adults.

Phone: 530-885-0441

Address: 560 Wall Street, Auburn, CA 95603


Sierra Mental Wellness Group Roseville:

Provides individual and family counseling services, including: Comprehensive Outpatient Mental Health Counseling and Assessments for children, adolescents and adults.

Phone: 916-783-5207

Address: 333 Sunrise Avenue, Roseville, CA 95661