PSHE KS4: Rob - Living with bereavement

Advisory: Contains material of a sensitive nature

An emotional look at the effect of child loss and bereavement on a person’s mental health and the benefits of talking to others.

This short film features Charlotte and Rob, whose baby daughter Niamh died in October 2017 at 39 weeks and three days.

Rob used football as a coping mechanism and set up Sands United, a football team and support network for bereaved dads.

In the clip, Rob also meets HRH the Duke of Cambridge and discusses his struggles and how he overcame them.

Teacher Notes

  • This film is suitable for teaching 14-16 year olds, but because it addresses some challenging issues we strongly advise making yourself very familiar with the content before using it and considering carefully whether it will be appropriate and suitable for your specific cohort.

  • Check class records to see if any of your class have any mental health issues or have personal/lived experience of the topics raised, and consider the best action/support for them in advance.

  • Check Government guidance on teaching about mental health along with your school policies to make sure you follow these guidelines/protocols and talk to a member of the SLT if you are in doubt about anything before you teach.

  • Whether you choose to lead a discussion, do an activity or a combination of both, always start your session by setting up a working agreement with the class. Creating a list of rules will make sure everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in without being judged.

Points for discussion

  • What does ‘bottling up’ mean? Why do you think people do this when they are struggling mentally? (You could consider this in the context of culture, stereotypes, stigma.)

  • Why does Sands United football team work so well for Rob and the other bereaved dads? (They can just go and play football and get a break from their worries or they can talk to other people who know how they feel.)

  • What can we fix in life? What can’t we fix? (This open and perhaps philosophical discussion will enable pupils to consider that some things in life we have absolutely no control over but see that some things we do.)

Suggested activities:

  • Rob talks about feeling he needed to ‘fix it’ and ‘find a way to do something’ when his daughter died. How do the class think not being able to ‘fix it’ or ‘do something’ to put the situation right must have felt for him? Get students into pairs or small groups and allow them time to explore the different range of emotions that Rob could have felt. (E.g. anger, frustration, feeling useless, a failure etc.) Can they think of other situations in life where people might feel these same or similar emotions? What could help and why? (Talking and sharing is often the simplest and most helpful strategy because people can stop bottling up their feelings and, if they talk to someone with a similar experience, realise that they are not alone and get further help if needed.)

  • Rob says, ‘You just try and muddle your way through until you find a way that works for you.’ He found football helped him to get through the pain of losing his daughter. What other options could there be for people who are struggling with their mental health but don’t like sport? Following discussion and development of various different ideas, pupils could explore this through the medium of art or design.

  • At the end of the discussion/activity, always check in with the group to make sure they are OK, revisit the working agreement and remind them to talk to someone if anything they have seen in the film or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable. Finally, always signpost where they can get further support or information both within and outside of school. ChildLine is there for people right up to the age of 19 for support. Students can also find out more about Heads Together and find links to further support on their Get support page.)

Curriculum Notes

These lessons will fit within: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education in England
Curriculum for Wales, Health and wellbeing in Wales
The Curriculum for Excellence, Health and wellbeing in Scotland
Northern Ireland Curriculum, Learning for life and work in Northern Ireland

More from this series:

Matthew: Living with anxiety
Nick: Living with anxiety
Joe Hart: Managing the pressures of the Premier League
Marvin Sordell: Living with depression
HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s Mental Health Campaign