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Loss of Parent
Old 05-15-2012, 03:10 PM
 
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I have a little boy whose mom had a brain aneurysm. Today her doctor's determined that she does not have brain activity, and the family has decided to take her off of the machines keeping her alive.

Has anyone ever gone through one of their students losing a parent? I am so sad for this child, and his father is not in his life. He is very close to his uncle, and I am assuming the boys (3 in grade school, one in college) will live with him.

We only have 10 days of school left, and I have no idea if he will even return for the year. The counselor is going to help me tell my students. Any other advice anyone has for me?


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Old 05-15-2012, 03:19 PM
 
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I sent you a private message.
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How terrible...
Old 05-15-2012, 03:55 PM
 
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It's so sad to see a young child have to go through this and it's often difficult to find just the right thing to say. This year two of my students (brothers) loss their father to gun violence and last summer I had a student lose her father to gun violence. And a few years ago I had a little girl whose father died due to illness. While it's not easy, I've always just pulled the child aside and let them know that I am there for them if they ever need to talk and that it's normal to feel sad or angry at times. I think it's important that they know there is another adult they can come and talk to about their feelings. A teacher is so critical in the life of a child and we are like second parents to many of them. One of the students I had whose father died did not want to talk to the counselor who she didn't know and she wouldn't talk to her mom and I was really the only one she would talk to about her feelings. We kept a journal all year where she would write to me and I would write back. It's not so much what you say to them, but just being there to listen to what they have to say.

I've also made sure to keep the other parent (or guardian as the case may be) informed of worrying changes in behavior like withdrawal or misplaced angry, recommending counseling when necessary and making sure to "pick up the slack" as it is often difficult for the family to keep up with the children during such a difficult time.
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no message
Old 05-15-2012, 05:29 PM
 
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I don't have a private message, unless it's just taking a REALLY long time to get there?
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I just went through this.
Old 05-15-2012, 06:57 PM
 
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I had a student lose his mother this year due to illness. It only happened about a month ago and it still makes me sad to think about it. I went to the funeral along with my principal, which I felt was important to do as it showed I was there for him, and his family. He actually came back to school the day after the funeral as his dad wanted things 'back to normal' for him.
He does speak with our school counselor once a week, and has the opportunity to go and speak to her any other time if he is just having a bad day.
I just made sure he knew I was there too if he wanted to talk, and also keep in contact with his father if there are any concerns.

We also had the counselor come in and talk to the rest of the class before the student came back to school, but although I think that was a good idea, the discussion quickly turned into lots of students sharing all their experiences of death from grandparents to their pet fish!

The only advice I really have is to try to make things as normal as possible, while showing that you care and understand what your student is going through. At home I'm sure everyone is sad and trying to get through this horrible experience, I think for them to come to school and have some time away from that can be very helpful.

Hope that helps a little.


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Went through the same thing
Old 05-16-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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I had a child whose dad went into surgery. He died during the procedure. Just a few days before he approached me because he wanted his daughter retained. He was furious with her. When I found out that he had passed away...my heart broke for his daughter.

I bought her a journal where she could write her feelings in. Also, there is a wonderful book called "The Invisible String" by Patrice Karst. Another good book is "I Miss You" by Pat Thomas.

I hope this helps...
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Thank you!
Old 05-16-2012, 10:29 AM
 
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I know there is no easy way to deal with these things, but I appreciate all of your input. It sounds like just being there for the child and family is the most helpful. I appreciate all of your journal and book recommendations as well.

We have a great counselor at my school, and she is going to help me tell the other students in the class.
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death of a parent
Old 05-16-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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I've had to deal with this issue a number of times. As for the children in your class, unless they personally knew this mom, it seems to be pretty much "out of sight, out of mind". They are still young enough that they don't think about it, don't equate what happened to a classmate with the possibility of it happening to them. That's not to say they won't feel sad for the classmate.

Having the counselor available will be important, as others have said. For those who may have suffered a loss, this might drag up painful memories. For some, there may just be questions about death in general.

If the child does come back, do watch for signs of personality changes. I once had a student lose her father to a heart attack, and she never shed a tear. Not once! We really worried about her. She was just too happy. But she was a really strong little girl. The counselor talked with her a few times, she worked through it her own way, and is now a happy, active teenager. I have student this year whose mother died of cancer last year, and he and his family are still trying to work through the loss. For them, it's been a year of getting through the "firsts"--first Christmas without Mom, first Mother's Day, etc.

My own grown children lost their father to suicide 18 months ago. The 26 year old (at the time) was angry, then just matter-of-fact about it, and really prefers not to talk about it. His 22 year old brother (at the time), was very emotional, visits the gravesite often, and has been very angry with his brother for not showing what HE considers proper respect. Losing a parent at any age is tough, and even the grown-up children don't always understand...

Last edited by tweet; 05-16-2012 at 10:50 AM.. Reason: left out a word
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Parent Loss
Old 05-21-2012, 11:08 AM
 
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I just recently gone through the same thing this school year. One of little girls was removed from her mother and place with grandparents. A few months after being taken from her mom neighbors found the mom shot to death in a car. Of course the little girl was taken because mom was living the fast life doing drugs etc. This little girl took it hard and it affected the students in our classess, they were sad because the little girl was sad.. We sent the kids to the counselor for a few weeks until we all decide to be strong for her and cheer her up every chance we got.

Now we are going through another student looseing her dad to cancer. Now it's the end of the school year and we won't have much time with her to do the same thing we did with the other little girl. I wish we had more time in school to cheer her up and help her cope with her loss.
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