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Death of a student's parent
Old 01-19-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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I posted a few days ago about the death of one of my student's parents, well I am back with more advice today. The students are coming to school tomorrow and I am not sure how to act? Do I act normal like nothing has happened in front of the class and pull the child aside privately or do I address the child when she arrives? I want the child to know I am concerned and I am here for her, but I dont want to make things worse. What would you do if you were in this situation?

Thanks in advance for the help and support.


 


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Old 01-19-2009, 02:07 PM
 
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A student's noncustodial mother was shot by her boyfriend just before Christmas break. The guidance counselors had talked to the father. At his advice, we didn't say anything. She asked me if I heard, and I said yes, it was sad. Things have gone on normally since then. Since the mother lived in an adjacent county, I don't think all the kids even know. Those who do know are sympathetic and also keeping it low key. (grade 6 in MS)
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:20 PM
 
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I have never quite been in your situation, but I had a student a few years back, who's father committed suicide in the home. Just as the kids were getting home from school and after school events the emergency vehicles were in front of the house taking care of "business". You can imagine who quickly word flew in the neighborhood. We did have the district crisis counselor come and talk to my class just in case they had heard or seen anything and to know who to react/respond to their classmate. He had not returned to school.

I had visited the family in the home, after it happened. When he came back to class the next week, his mother brought him into the classroom before school. I reassured him that it was okay to be sad and that if needed to leave the room and talk to me or the counselor, he could do it in a heartbeat. All things considered it went very well.

You might also talk with the school counselor about visiting with the student. Ours did a how I feel about dad's death booklet with him that was very neutral about dying and dealing with death.

Is your class unaware? I would probably not say anything in front of the student unless something comes up.

Last edited by rappinteach; 01-19-2009 at 05:40 PM.. Reason: reword for clarity
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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Some of my students know, but I am not certain how many. Many of my students live in the same neighborhoods and the families are all friends and chat with each other, so I imagine word will spread quickly. I'm very close to the family having had all the children. Mom has even asked if I could take the child to the viewing tomorrow from school. I think I am going to act normal and then speak to the child privately when my kids are at specials, just so he knows I am there. Just such a tough situation and I am nervous about it myself, and prob. getting myself more worked up then I need to be... but I'm only human.
 
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My thoughts and prayers
Old 01-19-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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are with you, your student, and the family. Your support will be such a source of comfort to the student and family. Good luck and know I'm thinking of you! Please let us know how it went. I have a parent of one of my children who is very ill. It's so sad!


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Old 01-19-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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Your student and his/her family is lucky to have you for support. One never knows exactly how to act in a situation like this. The reassurance to mom that you understand her child is still processing all this and that you are willing to help them as a family will be greatly appreciated. Good thoughts are going your way as you handle this situation tomorrow.
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:46 PM
 
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One of my student's lost his mother the week before Christmas this year. The father decided to have us talk to the class about it. At my request, the school social worker came in and explained. Do you have a social worker you can bounce things off of?
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Depends on the child and how
Old 01-19-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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close you are to her. My student wanted to talk. I also offered restroom and guidance visits as needed. Her dad died at his own hand. It was horrible. Very sad. I was business as ususal, and since most of the kids knew what happened and their folks handled it at home.
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Old 01-19-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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I haven't had this exact situation before, but a tragedy struck one of my students earlier this school year. My principal advised me to carry on with business as usual with the class and to let him know I was there if he needed to talk. Some of the kids knew bits and pieces about what had happened and tried to talk about it the next day, I just said we weren't going to discuss it in class. I would just pull the student aside at some point tomorrow and let him know you're there for him and carry on as usual with the class.
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Old 01-19-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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Having been a student whose mother died while I was in middle school, I think it is best to keep the day as normal as possible. School was the only normal place I had left after my mom died.

A time will present itself where you can praise your student or let the student know you are there. You don't have to search for an opportunity. Just keep your heart open. It will happen.
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go on as usual
Old 01-19-2009, 07:27 PM
 
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Try to go on as best you can with your normal routine. We had a 4th grader whose step-parent killed the bio. parent last April while we were on vacation. Take your cues from the child.

We did have a school counselor come in from the public schools for a few days to talk to any child/staff who needed it - we're a Catholic school. The sole bio. parent met w/ the pastor, principal, homeroom teacher and the child the day before returning to school.

Naturally, the child had a hard time adjusting, but according to the bio. parent, we were the best thing for the child as it was the only structure that remained normal for the child. The child was able to finish out the year and go on to 5th grade, but it took a lot of understanding from teachers and our volunteer nurses.

I don't think anything you could do would make it worse for the child. Just be yourself and let the child know you are there for him/her. A quiet "I'm sorry" might be all that is needed at this stage.
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