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Living with loss

To encourage students to think about how they can best live with loss and to look at different ways of dealing with loss.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to think about how they can best live with loss and to look at different ways of dealing with loss.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be very sensitive when using this assembly and be aware of anyone who may be dealing with loss at the time.
  • This assembly would work best with six prepared student readers. You might like to adapt the aspects of the losses to make the assembly more relevant.
  • Choose some music that will help your students reflect on this assembly.


  1. We all know what it is like to lose something: maybe our house key, our mobile phone, a favourite cuddly toy, a special pair of earrings. We may feel frustrated, sad, desperate, without hope.

    You may know what it is like to lose a pet who means the world to you. Or know how it feels to have to let go of a dream that we have lived for all our lives.

    Just think how hard it would be to lose a person who is close to us.

    Some of us will have experienced a loss such as these. Some of us will know how it feels.
  2. Loss always brings pain, but everyone feels pain in different ways.

    Reader 1:  When Abbie’s dog died, she thought she would never get over it. Every day she would expect him to be there when she came through the door and every day the loneliness would overwhelm her again. She avoided the park and the memories it triggered of her daily walk with her faithful friend.

    Reader 2:  When Jessica’s dad walked out on her and her mum, she felt hurt, abandoned and confused. She wondered if he would have stayed if she had behaved better. She felt betrayed that he could walk away and not want to be with her any more.

    Reader 3:  When David was dropped from Newcastle Football Academy, he was completely devastated. He felt that all he had worked so hard for had been destroyed. He didn’t want to see anyone; he didn’t want to leave his bedroom. He just wanted to think about what he could have had.

    Reader 4:  When Steven’s brother was killed in Afghanistan, his pain turned into anger. He wanted to hurt someone like he was hurting inside. He put all his energy into training every day so that he could be the best soldier when he left school. He couldn’t wait to go out to Afghanistan himself and kill as many of the enemy as possible for what they had taken away from him.

    Reader 5:  When Anna had to leave her home in Poland and move to the UK, she felt that she had left a large part of her behind. She missed her grandparents and home and friends so much. She thought she would never smile again. She did not want to be in the UK and she was sure that she could never enjoy it.

    Reader 6:  When Lewis’s mum died, he did not know what to do with himself. He did not want to go on without her. He did not know how to live his life without her. He just wanted her back. Nothing else would stop the pain.
  3. We can all experience loss and pain, but everyone learns to live with loss in different ways.

    Reader 1:  Abbie would not let anyone talk about her dog. She would not go to her friends’ houses if they had a dog. She put all of her dog’s toys and leads and photos in a box in the garage. She thought that if she did not think about him at all, then the pain would go away.

    Reader 2:  Jessica decided that the best way not to get hurt again was to distance herself from her mum and her dad. She went out with her friends as much as possible. She would make her own decisions and lead her own life. She would show them that she did not need them in her life.

    Reader 3:  David decided that he would not play sport again. He had been careful, watching what he ate and what time he went to bed – and all for nothing. He started hoarding food in his bedroom and watching TV until midnight. He did not care about his work. He did not care about his health.

    Reader 4:  Steven became known as someone who would pick a fight over nothing. There was nothing he liked more than beating someone up. He grew stronger and more aggressive by the day. Even his friends were scared of him.

    Reader 5:  Anna had a routine that she stuck to every day. She ignored people who tried to be friendly. She never went out. She didn’t join in. She seemed intent on making the most boring, miserable life for herself.

    Reader 6: Lewis could not stop crying. He pretended to be ill so that he didn’t have to go to school. He thought everyone would laugh at him. He couldn’t imagine ever stopping crying.
  4. We never forget our loss, but as time passes, we eventually learn to live again in different ways.

    Reader 1:  One day Abbie saw a dog in the street which was just like her dog. She ran up and threw her arms round him and cried. She realized how much she missed having a pet. She is now visiting dog shelters with her mum until she finds a dog which she can help and who can comfort her in her pain and loss.

    Reader 2:  Jessica still finds it hard to trust her mum or her dad. But now she realizes how much she misses them and is beginning to spend a bit more time with them. She has fun shopping with her mum and going to the cinema with her dad. She won’t talk to them about how she feels but this is good enough for now.

    Reader 3:  David continued not caring for himself for a bit, but became sick of his life feeling so empty. He has found the courage to join a local football team and is learning to enjoy playing again. He is wondering about training to become a referee.

    Reader 4:  Steven ended up in hospital after one of his fights. He was encouraged to speak to an anger management expert, and to his surprise is finding it really helpful. He still wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps but wants to be the kind of soldier that would make his brother proud.

    Reader 5:  Anna started to become interested in her surroundings, however hard she tried not to. The birds sang in the trees on her way to school. People smiled at her in the corridor. The sun shone on her back as she ate her lunch. She now realizes that she has only one life and is trying to make the best of it that she can.

    Reader 6:  Lewis could not function. His family was worried about him and he agreed to have professional help. He has been able to talk through his emotions and is now beginning to think about returning to school.

Time for reflection

Listen to these words, and reflect on them.

We can all experience pain and loss.

We all experience it in different ways.

We must live with our loss in our own way.

We must let others live with loss in their own way.

We must take all the time we need.

We must let others take all the time they need.

We must learn to live again on the best path for us.

We must let others learn to live again on the best path for them.

We can be there for other people.

Other people can be there for us.

This may not have been an easy topic to talk about, but it has been an important one. If you have been affected by the issues raised in this assembly, then please make sure that you speak to someone.

However you feel, you are not alone.

Publication date: April 2010   (Vol.12 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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