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Death Of A Parent


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Hi everyone,

 

Not quite sure what to say as am in a state of shock. I've just had an email from my headteacher to inform me that a little girl in my class (reception) mum has suddenly died yesterday while travelling back from a holiday. The mum had been battling cancer for a few years. Dad has emailed to say that the little girl wants to come to school tomorrow (we have been on half term the past 2 weeks).

 

Does anyone has any advice on what I should do to support this lovely family at this tragic time?

 

Thank you all

 

Chickpea xx

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I'm sorry to hear this................. we've had similar sad events over the years, two mums died from cancer, another lost a child to cot death and then a few weeks ago, a mum had a stillbirth. All i can say is to keep things as normal as possible, be aware that the child might have some 'wobbles' and listen to what she has to say. We have a little girl who is the sister of the stillborn baby and she keeps telling us she has 'tummy aches' or that she has a baby in her tummy.................and then that mummy and daddy were very sad, because the baby died. We have told her that it's ok to cry when you're sad and that mummy and daddy won't be sad forever,but right now they ARE very sad. The health visitor has said we've handled it well and it's right to explain that people feel sad when someone dies etc. So.............listen, empathise,listen again and let her dad know what she says about her mum's death, so he can deal with her worries. Don't forget to allow him time to talk too, if necessary. he's going to be experiencing a huge range of emotions.Good luck.

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Hello

What a tragedy for everyone to have to deal with, utterly, utterly devastating.

If dad has said that the little girl wants to come to school tomorrow then clearly a 'normal' routine is in order. You have to think that you and your class will be unchanged for her ... mummy wasn't at school so things can be 'as normal'.

If it were me, i would want to know what the little girl had been told so that I could support that, without saying the wrong thing. The Winstons Wish website is excellent for supporting bereaved children - but that's a little way away from now. IMHO the little girl needs to feel that she can talk if she wants to, or not... that she can do 'normal' things at school and that she can have a cuddle and a cry whenever she feels like it. I do think the other children and parents will want to know what's going on so a clear message of information is crucial.

Don't forget that you will need support too - it's hard being strong and you will need to let out emotion - that's where this forum is so fabulous

Take care, lots of love

pw x

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Guest Spiral

I have personal experience in this and it's totally devastating as an adult, however, children all behave differently and so therefore expect the unexpected.

 

One of my daughter's teachers just offered her a way out, she said, 'If you feel it's too much, that you need some space, just get up and walk out, I'll come and find you in the library area'.

 

Although it may be hard for a young child to do that, is there any chance that you could have a hand signal and maybe an extra member of staff to take over from you if you need to go to the 'library'?

 

Also, just be aware that the way in which children and adults talk can trigger a emotional response- even a lesson plan when you look at the life cycle of something or the feeling sick (both were huge for my daughter in her class).

 

Lastly, time does heal, but as my daughter tells me, teachers are sometimes unaware - she saw a horrid video which looked at another faith and their beiliefs on death/suicide, with no understanding from her teacher-even after I spoke to her about it!

 

Best of luck - have a look at the pilgrims hospice/cancer research websites too - great for suggestions of help,

Spiral x

Edited by Spiral
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Think all have already said it very well.. but do find out what she has been told and how the parent wants you to deal with any questions she may ask you... also about what to tell other patents if anything.. some will ask and you need to know how the dad wants to deal with it

 

we had the child attend as normal, and kept all the same.. .. took a while for the child to ask or comment on things, but they did eventually.. follow their lead.

 

Winstons wish is a really good site.. we told the parent about it as well ..

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Hi it is always so sad when a parent dies, for all the family and all that knew her.

Agree with the other comments to lead from the family members requests, be aware that she may initially appear quite the same but in time she will begin to open up and share, just be there for them all if you can.

We have lost three parents during my time at our setting each one different and unique, like each family. Do also ask your local Senco team as they may have a box of resources for you to borrow. Ours did and we were able to share with family members too.

Make sure you are all supported too.

love from bridger

xx

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Thank you so much everyone, it is so fantastic to have such wonderful support from this site.

 

Just to update, it turns out the situation was worse than I realised. Apparantly the family was travelling back from a holiday on Saturday when mum took a turn for the worse and tragically died there and then in the car with the children present. Dad drove straight to the hospital but doctors were unable to revive her.

 

The little Girl 'X' seemed 'normal' today. Wanting to tell me about her birthday party and every bit of news apart from the obvious. I decided to take from her lead and didn't mention anything. However another parent after school asked me about it as apparently X had told her child. Do I intervene at this stage and talk to the rest of the class? Dad was inconsolable this morning and I could tell did not want to get into discussions - particularly as it was the first day back and it was in front of 30 other parents.

 

Do you think it appropriate to send a card and flowers? I just feel so hopeless and inadequate.

It really puts things into perspective. Thank you again so much.

Chickpea xx

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Hi Chickpea,

I think a card or letter from you on behalf of the nursery would be a lovely gesture.If you can put in some memory of mum -perhaps when the little girl first started that will be a special memory for the family if not now but in years to come. From my own experience the things people write at times like this are an enormous comfort.

Posy

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We certainly have in the past, as we felt it was appropriate.

We did also have a collection in memory of the last mummy that sadly passed away, from staff and parents.

All monies raised went to the families chosen charity.

We knew the family extremely well having had the eldest child and the other two children were still in Pre-school at the time.

We had also supported her and her family through her illness.

When its appropriate do ask what has been explained to the child, so that you can support her and respect the families wishes.

Just take each day as it comes, and don't forget to take care of yourselves too.

love from bridger

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Guest Spiral

I have kept all of the cards after my husband passed away. My daughter will I'm sure one day read them, but until she is strong enough they are tucked away. The thoughts were just lovely and meant so much.

 

One of the hardest aspects was that I did not realise how much of my time would now be spent trying to sort out the finances and funeral - I wasn't able to spend enough time with my children and the friends and relations I had were very well used. If you can carefully offer support and try to hint to friends that they will be needed to look after the children as much as possible over the next two/three weeks that could be helpful too. People offered to help me, I don't think I was up to asking them.

 

Well done for today and best of luck with everything,

Spiral x

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This is a situation we have needed to deal with too. In our LA the educational psychologists offer support to settings/schools where there has been a bereavement. We just found it useful to have someone to chat things over with so we as a setting felt supported and had a source of advice as we tried to give the family support. A similar service amay be available in your LA too, so it may be worth enquiring.

I just have one other thought which is that, in time, a CAF may be a good idea in order ensure they have all the support that may be useful to them.

I guess that just being there for the children and family and listening to them is the greatest thing you can do for them.

Gruffalo2

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I don't think there's much that can be added here, from experience its better to follow your instincts and just pay attention and respond to the child's reactions and questions to what's going on around her, giving her time and opportunities where she can express her concerns, and also happy memories.

When my sister died a few months back my nephew was kindly given a set of worry dolls, and had them explained to him. So even if he decided not to tell someone, he had a practical method for "dealing" with any bad feelings.

 

Its a horrible situation for all of you, *hugs*

 

Ali x

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