• Jane

Secondary School Places and Grief

Some of these things are life decisions we make from very early on in our children’s lives



Today, 10- and 11-year-olds around the country have been receiving their secondary school places. It’s hard enough when a child doesn’t get into a school of their choice. Throw the loss of a parent into the mix, and the combination can feel overwhelming for the parent left to pick up the pieces of another loss; loss of hopes,dreams and expectations.


High school choices are a huge thing, with some big family decisions made along the way to ensure the school of choice. Some relocate to better catchment areas, or spend years going to church to get into the best church school in town.


Some of these things are life decisions we make from very early on in our children’s lives. Of course, we are going to feel the loss from not getting into our school of choice.


If appealing for your place isn’t an option, you will need to help your child open up and understand the loss they may be feeling and encourage an honest conversation with them. Please listen to what they have to say, without interruption.


Encourage them to express where they feel the loss, for example the safety net of friends going to the same school, the school isn’t in the locality, isn’t best suited for their needs, etc. Let them know that how they feel is ok and they have the right to feel upset, hurt, and angry. By listening you will validate their thoughts and feelings.


The tips below will help you validate that loss.This way, you will feel a lot clearer for the decisions you now face.

  • Today might feel like an earthquake, how you respond to those feelings is in your control, the school choice is not.

  • Whatever you are feeling is fine. You are allowed to feel what you are feeling. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, disappointed, sad, or cheated, take a moment to acknowledge these feelings. Then take a deep breath.

  • What you decide to do next is down to you. Remember, everyone will react differently and that is ok.

  • It might be an idea to stay off social media to avoid other people’s celebrations/thoughts, etc.

  • Remember, the school does not define who you or your children are

  • There are options open to you and avenues that maybe you have not thought about exploring before. However, we understand that your dreams may not have been realised and that will take time for you to process and be content with

  • If you’re not happy with your results, tell someone you trust how you’re feeling. You need to be heard, not fixed. And it’s ok to cry and feel sad. They are normal and natural reactions to your loss of hopes and expectations

  • Once your feelings have been addressed, you will then have a clearer head to plan your next steps.


About Jane


Jane Dixon

Jane Dixon is a Grief Recovery Method Specialist who delivers Helping Children with Loss courses to schools and anyone who lives and works with children, as well as Grief Awareness talks to parents and professionals.


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