It’s something everybody goes through in life, usually on multiple occasions, but it’s rarely discussed and many are unprepared to deal with it.

A New Jersey lawmaker is now pushing a plan to help Garden State students understand the grieving process, and how to handle loss in a healthy way.

State Sen. Jon Bramnick , R-Union, said we are teaching a lot of different things in health class in Jersey “and this is an area that everyone has some experience with, meaning everyone suffers grief.”

Make it a requirement

He’s sponsoring a measure, S3330 that would require each school district in New Jersey to include instruction on grief in an appropriate place in the curriculum of students in grades 8 through 12.

He said teaching our children how to deal with this subject is important.

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“Whether it’s a loss within your family or trying to help others who have suffered some sort of loss, this would be a short course within health. (class)”

He noted if a child loses a parent it’s difficult and stressful for the surviving family members and most friends don’t know what they should do or say.

Religion, death and dolor - mortician on funeral with urn
kzenon GettyImages

It would help everybody

“This would help not only the person who’s lost a loved one, but people have to deal with those individuals who have lost a loved one, I think there’s a void and I think this might help fill that void,” he said.

Bramnick said this kind of class would not be taught until kids are at least in 8th grade or high school.

“I don’t want to scare young people, telling them about – you are going to suffer a loss down the road- I just don’t think it’s appropriate.”

He stressed “I don’t like to regulate from Trenton, but when everyone wants to teach all kinds of different subjects, I figure here’s one that would help everyone.”

He noted many people deal with grief by drinking, driving fast or taking drugs.

“We have some very negative effects of grief, and it’s probably important to recognize this behavior before it happens,” he said.

He added “I believe it’s a practical course, a course that would be helpful to everyone at some point in their life.”

The measure is co-sponsored by State Senator Joe Cryan, D-Union.

The legislation stipulates instruction is to include information on the physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms of grief, coping mechanisms and techniques for handling grief and loss, and resources available to students including in-school support, mental health crisis support, and individual and group therapy.

Under the bill the Commissioner of Education would be required to provide school districts with age-appropriate sample learning activities and resources designed to implement the requirement to include instruction on grief in the public school curriculum.

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