Governor signs grief bill promoting grief education in NJ schools

Gov. Phil Murphy signs the grief bill with, from left, Assemblywoman Linda S. Carter, Good Grief Executive Director Mark Durham, Sen. Jon Bramnick, Imagine Executive Director Lindsay Schambach and Imagine participants Ava Quezada and Elizabeth King-Quezada.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — On Thursday, Jan. 4, Gov. Phil Murphy signed S3330/A5015, a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Jon Bramnick and Joseph Cryan, promoting instruction on grief, as part of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. Through the bill, New Jersey’s public schools will provide instruction for students in grades eight through 12 regarding, at a minimum, information on how grief can show up physically, emotionally and behaviorally; techniques for coping with grief and loss; and resources available to students, including in-school support, mental health crisis support and individual and group therapy.

The Commissioner of Education plans to provide school districts with age-appropriate sample learning activities and resources designed to implement the requirement that will apply to the next full school year.

The legislator called upon participants and staff from Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss during consideration of the bill. Imagine participants Elizabeth King-Quezada and her daughter, Ava Quezada, as well as Altorice Frazier and Tiffany Love of Parents Engaging Parents, advocated for the bill at the senate hearing.
Imagine’s executive director, Lindsay Schambach, met regularly with families, educators, administrators and others in the grief field throughout the legislative process and shared this about the bill:

“The passing of the grief bill is an act of partnership and is a significant step towards supporting our children by normalizing grief in our communities. According to the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model, one out of 13 children in the state of New Jersey is expected to experience the death of a parent or sibling before the age of 18. It’s crucial for us to provide spaces and opportunities for our children throughout the state to have a better understanding of their experience and the experience of others in a supportive environment. We want our children to know they are not alone in their grief. Imagine is ready and honored to partner with the Department of Education, school districts, teachers and parents/caregivers to support this shift in our state and to serve as models for other states to join the movement.”

Photo Courtesy of Valerie Stierhoff