Social Stories About Death

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

Teachers can use social stories as tools for teaching a wide variety of topics. In this lesson, you'll find some social stories dealing with the topic of death.

When Someone Dies

A student comes to class looking upset and makes the dreaded announcement that a family member or friend has died. Now you are looking around, wondering how many of the other students heard, and trying to decide what to say.

If you have students who are dealing with death, one tool you can use is a social story. Social stories are brief anecdotes that walk students step by step through a topic, such as death, describing things that may happen and how a person might respond.

Students may have a wide variety of experiences regarding death, and social stories about this topic should be considered carefully and tailored appropriately to the needs of the individual. Here are three examples of social stories that could be used to talk about death.

Social Stories About Death

Story One: What Is Death?

There was a girl at my school named Amane. She had a heart disease. Over the weekend, she died. Now everyone at school is talking about it, and I started to think about what death means.

When people are alive, their hearts are beating, their lungs are breathing, their brains are thinking, and their bodies are moving. When they die, all of those things stop.

I've heard people use different phrases to describe Amane's death. They say that Amane has ''passed away'', or that she is ''no longer with us.'' Sometimes they say we've ''lost'' Amane. Some of those phrases make it sound like Amane will be back, but I know that she won't be back.

People believe all kinds of different things about what happens to a person after he or she dies. I don't know what I believe, but I do know that Amane is gone. I know that it's okay to be sad and miss her. It's okay to cry. It's also okay to remember Amane and be glad that I knew her.

Death is hard to think about and hard to talk about. It's also hard when someone you know dies. I miss Amane.

Story Two: Grandma Died

On Sunday, we went to visit Grandma at the hospital; she'd been sick for a long time. On the way, Mom told me that we were going to say ''goodbye.'' I asked why we would say ''goodbye'' before it was time to leave, and Mom said that we were going to say ''goodbye'' for a very long time.

It was scary at the hospital. Grandma had tubes and wires attached to her arms and nose. There were machines that made beeping noises. Nurses and doctors were everywhere, and everything smelled funny. Mom told me to hold Grandma's hand and talk to her. Grandma was very quiet, but right before I let go of her hand, I heard her say, ''I love you.''

On Tuesday, Mom started to cry while she was talking on the phone. When she hung up she said, ''Honey, I need to tell you something. Grandma died.'' I started to cry, too, because Mom was crying, even though I didn't really understand.

Later, I asked Dad what it meant that Grandma died. He said it meant that we can't see her anymore. She is gone. No more sleepovers. No more cookie parties. No more stories. No more hugs. Now I'm really sad. I don't like death.

This morning, I woke up crying about Grandma. Mom came to my room to talk to me. We started talking about all the fun things we did with Grandma. Mom says that when I feel sad about Grandma, I should try to think about the good memories I have of her. I'm going to try to do that, because I loved my Grandma.

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