Understanding and Teaching about End of Life Topics

Understanding and Teaching about End of Life Topics

Most people prefer not to discuss topics concerning death, dying, and bereavement. Death is uncomfortable to talk about, especially in our western culture, where people endlessly search for ways to ward off the effects of aging for as long as possible. People do not spend time discussing how to prepare for loss or what it might be like when our own time comes. However, death is a natural part of life, and it is not something that needs to remain a taboo subject.

According to studies, "children begin to grasp death's finality around age 4. Researchers found that 10 percent of 3-year-olds understand irreversibility, compared with 58 percent of 4-year-olds." Despite knowing that children start to grasp the concept of death from an early age, most schools in the United States do not have a formal curriculum about topics of death and dying. Instead, schools rely on counselors and nurses to assist those experiencing loss. There is typically no curriculum available to teach about the concepts of death or bereavement before it happens. Understandably, teaching children of any grade level about death can be scary, because death doesn't have any conclusive answers. Whether explained philosophically, culturally, or religiously, there is no one-size-fits-all answer beyond the fact that life has ended.


The Importance of Understanding and Teaching about End of Life Topics

You may not realize it, but the students you encounter have already been exposed to topics about death, dying, and bereavement long before they entered your classroom or office. Children can see death in cartoons, movies, video games, literature, science, religion, and many other formats, including experiencing a family member’s or pet's death. Death is also part of current events that students can view through the news and social media. 

Allowing students to communicate and ask questions about tough topics is an integral part of developing strong relationships with their teachers and trusted adults. It creates a safe space for them to be supported, especially if this support is not available at home. Even if you don't have all the answers, knowledge and techniques for navigating these subjects will allow you to prepare for the questions and concerns that will inevitably arise regarding death and dying.


Benefits of the Course Understanding and Teaching about End of Life Topics

In the course, Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues offered by Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne, K-12 teachers and administrators will learn how to apply and practice age-appropriate techniques for teaching children about death and dying, the developmental aspects of dying and death at different age levels, the process of dying, suicide, animals and death, death rituals and funerals, and grief.

Topics include: 

  • Become familiar with up-to-date information through current data from a wide range of sources.
  • Explain societal steps that could help children better cope with the death of an individual.
  • List at-risk behaviors for children after a traumatic death event.
  • Understand the benefits of hospice care, as well as problems faced by hospice programs.
  • Discuss ethical and legal issues regarding the Internet in suicide promotion.
  • Be able to list ways that an individual can cope with the loss of a pet.
  • Understand the difference between a durable power of attorney and a living will.
  • Know the needs of the bereaved.
  • Understand the social function of the funeral.
  • Understand different religious responses and social conditions related to the funeral.
  • Understand normal feelings and behaviors associated with the grieving process.
  • Be familiar with ways in which one can assist children experiencing trauma in grieving.
  • Understand the importance of discussing the end of life issues with loved ones.


Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues Course Contents

Successful completion of Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues will lead to long-lasting benefits for yourself and your students by positively impacting coping with various death-related situations. It may also affect your professional career by allowing you to leverage your new skills towards salary advancement, license renewal, or recertification. Students are encouraged to seek approval from their district or state before enrolling.

Contents include:

  • Issues in dying and death
  • Dying and death across the life cycle
  • The dying process
  • Suicide
  • Animals and death
  • Ethical issues of death and dying
  • Funerals
  • Bereavement
  • Multiple perspectives on end of life care

By enrolling in the course Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues, you will enhance your knowledge on topics that are rarely discussed through a curriculum explicitly made for K-12 educators and administrators. All content is self-paced, written in a user-friendly format, and accessible online 24/7 or via PDF format delivered directly to your email inbox.

This three-credit course, Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues, can be applied toward the Health and Human Development Certificate offered by Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. Other popular course options for this timely certificate include:

Note, the University of La Verne is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Since requirements may vary, students should check with their school district or state department of education before enrolling in a course.


How to Register

Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues can be completed online or via an emailed PDF format. All books and materials are mailed to the student regardless of the format selected. This course is open for registration at any time during each semester. Students also have access to live chat support and can expect a quick turnaround to receive their grades. Upon completion, students receive graduate, non-degree semester credit on official transcripts from the University of La Verne, an accredited university in La Verne, California. 

Registration is simple and can be done online or over the phone. Students may enroll in courses on a rolling basis during three standard semesters, and you can begin whenever you are ready! Students may enroll in up to a maximum of 15-semester credits at any time during each semester.

The registration dates are:

Fall: September 1 – January 31

Spring: February 1 – May 31

Summer: June 1 – August 31 

While thanatology is an approved topic for presentation in some elementary and secondary school curricula, death and dying topics rarely receive priority in the classroom.  Our course, Dying, Death, and Bereavement: End of Life Issues, provides the opportunity to learn about how to discuss this information with students in a supportive and age-appropriate way.

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