Using a storytelling intervention in schools to explore death, dying, and loss

Jessica Blake (Lead Author), Anda Bayliss, Bethan Callow, Grace Futter, Navaneeth Hari Krishnan, Guy Peryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Experiencing bereavement in childhood can cause profound changes to developmental trajectories. This paper aims to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a public health intervention in schools to encourage pupils aged 12-15 years to independently explore ideas of death, dying, loss and end of life care in a structured and creative format. Design/methodology/approach: A co-produced storytelling intervention was implemented in an independent school in Norwich, UK. Pupils wrote up to 1,000 words in response to the title, “I Wish We’d Spoken Earlier”. Their participation was voluntary and extra-curricular. Stakeholder feedback was used in addition to the submissions as a measure of acceptability, appropriateness, adoption and feasibility. Findings: In total, 24 entries were submitted. Pupils demonstrated their ability to engage thoughtfully and creatively with the subject matter. Feasibility for the storytelling intervention was demonstrated. Importantly, the intervention also prompted family conversations around preferences and wishes for end of life care. Research limitations/implications: To determine whether the intervention has psychological and social benefits will require further study. Practical implications: Educational settings can be considered as anchor institutions to support a public health approach to end of life care. Originality/value: The positive response from all stakeholders in delivering and supporting the intervention indicates that schools are a community asset that could be further empowered to support children and families affected by death, dying and loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2020


  • Bereavement
  • Children
  • Death
  • Dying
  • End of life care
  • Public health
  • Storytelling

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