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Old 07-22-2014, 07:32 PM
 
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A classmate of dd's passed away from leukemia. I haven't told her yet because I know she's going to be crushed. She wasn't close friends with the girl (the little girl was in fifth grade, my dd in first) but when the school had fundraisers for her she emptied out her bank and took it to school for her, and was very concerned about the child. I know she's going to be devastated that the little girl died, and I'm not quite sure how to tell her.

Has anyone else dealt with this type of situation, and how did you handle it?
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:45 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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Usually schools offer counselors for kids when something like this happens. Have you asked the school?
How you handle it personally depends on your particular religion or lack thereof. I think the worse thing is to tell her something like "God needed her more than we did" or "It's all God's plan" no matter what your beliefs are.

My son was in 6th grade when he and his Boy Scout troop went on a rappelling weekend. One boy was killed and his father was a chaperone and witnessed the whole thing. They were from a prominent Catholic family and I've never seen anything like how that family's main concern was about the welfare of the boys who were there and saw the whole thing. At the wake the boy scout leader was so torn up he could hardly breathe but the boy's family comforted him and tried to persuade him that he was not responsible. After that time at the funeral home my son and I sat in our dark car and talked in depth about what had happened, religion and death in general. Mostly I let him express himself and I answered his questions as best I could. But I think I helped most by listening.

But after the funeral my son was really confused because there was so much talk of God's will and "now he is spared life in this wicked world". I regretted very much his being at the funeral.

I would definitely tell her before she hears it from somebody else...and she will. I would approach her with the fact that everything that lives eventually dies and most of us live to be very old. But sometimes accidents happen and people get sick at all ages and her friend was extremely ill with a terrible disease. Tell her the money she gave helped the family at a difficult time and maybe even helped scientist learn how to help future children who get sick.

It might help her to go to the funeral but personally I don't think any child (or adult for that matter) needs to see a dead body in the casket. I know you will give it thorough contemplation before talking to her but don't wait too long cause she should hear it from you.

Just reread your post and see your child is only 6 or 7. Again I would hope somebody from the community would be available to help parents and children deal with this loss. Google "talking to young children about death" and I'm sure there are lots of resources on line.
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Old 07-22-2014, 09:01 PM
 
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I'm sure if it had happened during the school year they might have arranged something at school, but since she died over summer vacation I don't think there's much the school will do until they start back.

During the year they did announce that the child had leukemia and would have to travel for treatment, which was what the fundraisers were for. Although my dd was sad that the little girl was sick, I don't think it ever occurred to her that she could die. She came home talking about how the girl had told everyone that she might miss a lot of school for awhile, but she would be back. I'm sure dd is fully expecting the little girl to be back in school and recovered in the fall.

I do know I HATE the phrase "it was the Lord's will" or "God only takes the best" and other crazy platitudes like that. I'm not religious at all. I don't believe in organized religion or attend church although my dd goes with a relative (mostly sleeps through it) while I work. We have talked about the idea of Heaven in reference to her grandparents who she doesn't remember. Her great grandmother died several months ago, but she was 103 years old and it was sad for her, she was comforted to know that most people don't ever get to see 103 years and she was blessed to have known her great grandmother. The death of a child is a totally different matter though. This little girl was 10 years old. There's no way I can think of to make this easier for her to deal with. I like the way you put it about the money helping the family, that might make her feel a bit better.
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Old 07-22-2014, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnaNomus View Post
A classmate of dd's passed away from leukemia. I haven't told her yet because I know she's going to be crushed. She wasn't close friends with the girl (the little girl was in fifth grade, my dd in first) but when the school had fundraisers for her she emptied out her bank and took it to school for her, and was very concerned about the child. I know she's going to be devastated that the little girl died, and I'm not quite sure how to tell her.

Has anyone else dealt with this type of situation, and how did you handle it?
Check with the school. They can point you in the right direction. They may even have counselors available who work during the summer.

If the school doesn't have something arranged, you can talk with the pastor of your church or find a grief counselor.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
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I honestly believe your daughter will follow YOUR lead on this.

As soon as you can before school starts, as in this weekend, tell you daughter that you have some sad news you wanted to tell her.

Then tell her that the little girl passed away in a way that you think will work best for her.

Listen to her, and answer any questions that you can, but do not make it have more of an effect on your daughter's life than it needs to. By that I mean don't apply MORE emotion to it than your daughter is already feeling.

If you can help her deal with it now, before school starts, then she will have time to deal with her emotions at home.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Bloomington IN
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As much as we try we cannot protect our children from all of the hurts in the world. Death is a part of living and all of us will have to deal with this at some time.

I too would sit her down and share the news with her. I would also let her know that she can ask you questions if she has them. As a first grader she may not have many questions as she may not fully comprehend what death means. I would also reassure her that it is fine to feel sad. What may happen is that she becomes concerned you or she will die. I recall my D become a bit obsessed with death around this age--worrying something would happen to me or her father. All you can do is let her know that it's unlikely to happen. Do explain to her that the little girl was very, very sick.

You also might consider taking her to any services held for the little girl. When my nephew (also a 5th grader) died there were many children at his services. One parent confided in me that it helped her daughter as she saw how many people loved my nephew, she saw his favorite things, and that others were sad too. The "community" that the little girl experienced in attending the services helped her deal with her emotions.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:24 AM
 
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An acquaintance of my daughter's died of a brain aneurism the summer before my daughter started 6th grade. The little girl was a year ahead. She and my daughter had gone to elementary school together and rode the bus together, but weren't super close friends.

I heard about it when I was picking my daughter up from a day camp and waited til we got home to tell her. I cried when I told her, but she did not. Later that evening or the next day we both had a good cry over it. She did not want to go the funeral and I didn't make her, but I went.

I think you have to be forthright with her and then be a good listener when she responds.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:41 PM
 
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I told her last night, and she responded a lot better than I expected. She was shocked and saddened, but didn't cry. She seemed very disappointed, because she believed that by donating money for the little girl's treatments that she would get better, and felt like it was all for nothing. I explained that it probably helped her feel so much better knowing that all her friends cared about her. (Thanks NoKudzu!) She wanted to look at pictures of the little girl on Facebook, and talked about how nice she was, how she was wearing hats because she lost her hair, and how she was the best school president ever ( I think she was voted president of her class). This morning, dd seemed fine and not dwelling much on it, so I don't think I'm going to let her attend the funeral. She seems to be handling it in her own way.

I was really expecting a worse reaction, so I'm glad it turned out to be not as bad as I thought. Thanks for all your input!
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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You know she handled it just fine for a child of her age. Death is so abstract to children. We forget how they think. Glad she is doing well. She may have some more questions later on and I'm sure you will find the right answers. Glad my small contribution helped!
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Old 07-25-2014, 03:22 PM
 
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In about.. 1987-1990.. There were THREE suicides involving students at my high school. In my.. Senior year, I think, which would have been 1991.. A teacher was killed when his Miata did a Clark Griswold (Think Christmas Vacation.. The scene with the 18 wheeler) .. And in my sophomore year, a teacher lost an arm in a car accident.. Three teachers were in the car.. One of the teachers was from the middle school, two from the high school (One of which was my Algebra teacher and was the driver) and they were coming back from either a Capitals or Bullets game.. Fell asleep at the wheel, the guy who lost an arm was in the backseat laying down, was ejected, landed draped over a guardrail and the car rolled over him. Really lucky to have just lost the arm.

Precisely nothing was provided to students. Different times.

Wren High school in Anderson, SC has to be the most cursed school so far as student deaths..

Between 1993 and 2010, there were 24 student deaths from car accidents alone. I think grief counselors were hired for that school they were there so much.
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