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Not knowing what to do

(17 Posts)
Mrsglitterfairy Fri 17-Mar-17 16:27:52

Not really the right place posting this in AIBU but didn't know where else to post..
DS(5)'s classmate passed away last night after a long battle with cancer.
I found out this morning as the parents had set up a Facebook page for fundraising and they updated that. I am obviously really upset about it and don't know what, if anything, to say to DS. I also have another DS who is 9 and also knows the little girl so I feel that I should tell them but don't know how. They have never experienced anything like this before.

CheerfulMuddler Fri 17-Mar-17 16:30:26

Are you sure he doesn't already know? They may have been told about it in school. Most schools would at least talk to the children if something like this happened to a child in their class.

Falafelings Fri 17-Mar-17 16:31:53

I wonder if they could write a letter to her. If close.

Mrsglitterfairy Fri 17-Mar-17 16:33:48

I thought they would have told them as they told them on Monday that she wasn't doing good and they all made her a card. Doesn't seem like they have said anything though, I've asked DS about his day and if anything happened and he said it was a good day and nothing special happened.

MillieMoodle Fri 17-Mar-17 16:47:39

They may do it gradually. A child in DS1's school recently passed away. The circumstances were very different but the headteacher initially told the parents and the children in that child's class. The other classes were then told the next day, class at a time. They waited until they had arranged for counsellors to be in school to tell the majority of children I think. Everyone is understandably devastated but the school has dealt with it very sensitively imo.

Mrsglitterfairy Fri 17-Mar-17 16:59:58

That's a really good way of dealing with it mille
I saw the headteacher in the playground this morning, he gave DS a cuddle and then looked really sad. I instinctively reached out and gave him a hug.. bet he thinks I'm a right weirdo now blush I was surprised that they didn't say anything to DS's class as they are all always asking about her

MillieMoodle Fri 17-Mar-17 17:37:35

I'd be surprised if they don't say anything on Monday. They may be waiting until they can have counsellors on site, particularly as the child's classmates are so young? At DS1's school, they didn't tell Year R or Year 1 but they sent a letter out by email to all parents explaining what had happened, how the children had been/were going to be informed, and why the little ones hadn't been. They left it up to parents of the little ones to tell them if they wanted to (the child who passed away was older, so many of the little ones wouldn't have known).

DS1 was 5 when it happened, we told him very gently that the child concerned wouldn't be coming back to school and he wouldn't be able to see that child any more and that it was very sad indeed, but we would have to think about the happy memories we had. He seemed to accept that, but he didn't know the child very well.

I can't begin to imagine how I would tell him if I were in your situation flowers

CheerfulMuddler Fri 17-Mar-17 18:12:13

I think I'd tell them. I'd sit them both down and I'd say the little girl had been very ill and very sadly her body had stopped working and that meant she couldn't use it any more. (Bit Cartesian, but can't think of a better way to explain it.)
What I'd say next depends on what your family believes, but for me, I'd say that what happens to your spirit after you die is a great mystery and nobody knows the answer. Some people think you go to heaven. Some people think you get born in another body - so their friend might have a new life as a new baby, or a bird, or a fish, or a cat or an elephant. And some people think dying is just like going to sleep and you just closer your eyes and don't know anything.
I'd talk a bit about what YOU believe - and if you don't know, then I'd say that. And ask them what they think - your nine year old will probably have ideas.
Then I'd talk about some of the things people do in our culture when people die - so, they might like to make a card to send to the family, or they might like to buy some flowers, and sometimes instead of flowers people give money to charity and you can talk about what charity to give money to to remember this girl if they'd like to do that. I think practical things are often really helpful because you can feel really helpless after someone dies.
And make it clear to them both that it's really rare for children to die and also that it wasn't their fault. Small children often do think it's their fault in really irrational ways - i read about one cos who thought she'd killed her mother because her star sign was cancer.
And I'd make sure the school know you've told him - the last thing you want is DS telling this little girls best friend in try playground before the teacher's had a chance to.

ghostyslovesheets Fri 17-Mar-17 18:17:03

DD1 lost a friend when they where 6 - the school handled it very well I think - they all wrote their happiest memories and posted them on the wall (these where also written up and given to his mum and dad) they also had a T shirt he had worn fundraising that was up in the classroom until the finished yr6 - they also planted a tree and had a plaque in the school grounds
It's terribly sad but be honest - and don't use words like 'falling asleep' it scares them!

Meekonsandwich Fri 17-Mar-17 18:34:29

Yeah Iwould explain in an age appropriate way
But Jesus please don't tell them they just went to sleep they could develop a fear of bed time thinking they're not.going to wake up

Mrsglitterfairy Sat 18-Mar-17 17:55:52

Thanks for the advice all. I've been working all day today so DH & I are going to sit him down when I get home and explain it to him. I'm dreading it and hope I don't get too upset but I don't want him hearing about it in the playground on Monday.
Turns out older DS already knows as he heard it from one of his friends yesterday but he's promised he won't tell younger DS

tinyterrors Sat 18-Mar-17 19:42:28

Definitely don't say it's like falling asleep.

You'll probably be surprised how well he handles it. When my mum died we told the dcs who were 4 and 5 that she was very poorly and the doctors just couldn't make her better even though they tried their best, and that she had fought to stay with us for as long as she could.

We also said she'd gone to be with the angels and was now a star in the sky. This is what they told me about my great grandma who died when I was 6 and at the time it brought me comfort to think I could still "see" her every night.

They were upset for the first week or so but they dealt with it much quicker than I did. A grief councillor told me that time moves differently for young children so they tend to reach the acceptance stage of grief much quicker than adults do.

MillieMoodle Sun 19-Mar-17 07:44:44

Hope all went well Mrs. Agree that they may be very accepting. When we told DS about the child at his school he asked a couple of questions about what had happened (which we weren't able to answer) and that was it. He has mentioned it a few times since and been sad once or twice but seems quite matter of fact about it.

BhajiAllTheWay Sun 19-Mar-17 08:15:08

I'm quite surprised that the school didn't speak to the pupils. Maybe they plan to do it at some point. Children tend to be accepting but as a PP said, don't use the analogy of falling asleep.

Mrsglitterfairy Sun 19-Mar-17 08:52:06

I was surprised that the school didn't speak to them too.
Well I told him last night, and felt like the worst Mum ever. I basically said that as he knows, she's been very poorly and her body couldn't take it any more so she's gone to heaven to be one of god's angels. I tried to put a nice spin on it saying that she's not in pain anymore and that she was a beautiful angel in the sky etc. At first he didn't believe me and kept saying she hasn't died, she's going to get better and then when he realised I was telling the truth, he sobbed his little heart out.
He seemed ok after it, had a good night's sleep and is playing fine this morning. But I still don't know if I did the right thing. DH feels like we should have sheltered him from the truth but I would rather have told him than him find out from someone else.
I'm going to have a quick word with his teacher in the morning to let her know that he knows incase he says anything to someone else.

TinfoilHattie Sun 19-Mar-17 08:55:41

Also surprised the school didn't handle this. Not quite the same but one of my children's classmates mum's died quite suddenly - she had been ill but her relapse was swift and she died when the kids were about 7. The day after it happened obviously the child was absent for school and the class teacher and the Head sat everyone else down and explained what had happened and they talked about how this child needed people to be extra nice and good friends, and they talked about loss in general.

I always think honesty is the best policy - the falling asleep analogy just makes childre frightened of sleeping. A "Charlie was very sick, and doctors tried everything they could to make him better but sometimes it isn't enough" is plenty to tell a small child.

TinfoilHattie Sun 19-Mar-17 08:58:11

Oh and also expect lots of questions about death and funerals - we are still getting questions realted to this years on.

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