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Advice on how to deal with death of daughter's school friend(9 Posts)
My daughter's school friend lost his long battle with cancer yesterday. He was 8. He had fought for almost 2 years and now he has gone.
He visited the school a couple of times last month and the children all took part in a run to raise money for CLIC.
My daughter is devastated because she thought he was on the mend and at 7 she is still confused by death.
Does anyone have any advice on dealing with this. It has upset me a great deal too because I feel so sad for his family, it is such a tragedy to lose one so young and it makes me treasure every moment with my children. I'm not sure how best to deal with it with DD, at the moment she knows that any time she wants to talk then I'm there for her and we've had a lot of cuddles and quiet time together. She said she wants to do something to remember him, so maybe there will be some kind of remembrance assembly for him when school starts up again. I had also thought about fundraising for CLIC - organising something for all the children in their year to participate in if they wanted to, along the lines of a Mile for Maud maybe.
Does anyone have any experience of this, I want to make sure I do the right thing in helping DD deal with it well, it's just so so sad.
In our experience, Winston's Wish have been incredibly helpful. They are a charity specifically to support bereaved children and their parents, teachers and carers.
They have a helpline which you could ring, as well as lots of info on the website, and some excellent publications. Our local school has been advised by them in helping the children with the loss of schoolmates, as have many of the parents.
Do have a look or get in touch with them. I hope this is helpful to you and your dd.
All the best.
Children are incredibly straightforward and factual in dealing with grief. It has been described to me as 'puddle jumping' - one minute they're talking about something intense and grief related the next they're chatting about what's on the telly. Winston's wish are amazing and helped me a great deal to cope and answer my son's questions who was nearly 5 when his little brother died. Their advice to me was to be led by the child as they would ask questions and need information at a pace they are ready to cope/process it.
I'd also second taking her to the funeral if you can cope with doing so yourself especially if the parents want children there. I don't know any of my friends who brought their kids to the funeral who regret it but a few who didn't have said to me with hindsight that they wish they'd been strong enough to bring them.
Many of my friends felt totally useless for a long time after my son died but a year on I embarked on fundraising (to help me get through the first anniversary) and delegated like crazy where many of them were able to feel like they were doing something useful. I also wouldn't have wanted the fundraising to have been led by anyone else unless i'd asked them to as it was important to me that things were done the way that reflected ds2. However everyone is different and deals with grief differently - for now my advice is to be honest as you can with your dd pitched at a level she will understand and cope with. Good luck x
Thank you for the advice. I hadn't thought that wanting to do something in fundraising would upset the parents so it is really helpful to have that insight, thank you. I will wait a little longer and be aware of my actions a little more.
Thanks also for the link to Winston's Wish, I will certainly look at it.
I will also enquire about the funeral. I think DD may well want to attend, it is very useful to know from your experiences that it helped the children to deal with it, so thank you for sharing those with me.
I would look into going to the funeral as I'm pretty sure that helped me after I lost my best friend (suddenly) at age 9. It helped me understand a little more and gave me a chance to say goodbye rather than just one day she was there, next she wasn't.
I still think about her now (I'm 34) but in a 'she was just such a lovely special person'. I do believe the funeral helped so I'd give your daughter the choice about going, if she's able to.
Your poor daughter, it's truly horrible to get a shock like this and all I can say is she WILL feel better over time, it's still such a shock for her.
Are the school doing anything? I know it's the holidays but it might be worth trying to contact them. I'm a secondary teacher and we went through a horrific period when we lost 3 pupils in 2 years (all to tragic accidents or sudden illness)and the school had counsellors in. One was a girl in my form; I was on mat leave but I was called and asked if I could go in and sit with anyone who wanted it.
Although a bit older, lots of our children attended the funerals and it really seemed to help; it almost drew a line under the mourning and allowed them to start remembering their friends in a happy way IYSWIM?
We went through something similar when our daughter lost a close friend, although she was only four and his death was very sudden.
All you can do is be there, listen and be honest with any questions that you are asked.
Re the funeral, I didn't take dd1 because I was 7 mo pg and beside myself with grief, and I think it was a good call, but now she's older I think I would take her even if she had to deal with a very upset mummy.
Re fundraising, dd1 has spent a year running a stall at our local village market which is once a month. She's done things like grow plants, make fairy wishing stones and decorated gift bags, and we also bought in some Christmas decs which went down really well. She did this two-three years' after her friend had died, and I cleared it with his mum first. She's told me that she's pleased that one of her son's friends remembers him. (obviously they were very little when he died).
In the meantime, there is no reason why your dd can't do something private. You could maybe plant a tree or bush in your garden, or blow some bubbles to take dd's wishes and love to her friend, just do it privately at home. You don't need to tell anyone. Does dd have a photo of him? Our friends gave dd1 a picture of her friend which she has framed in her room.
Our friends did start fundraising fairly quickly after their son died. Something that our dc's school does is every year the top class (yrs 5/6) organises a Summer Fair for a chosen charity towards the end of term, it happens in school time and all the pupils have the afternoon off to go as well as parents and people from outside the school. Maybe that is something you could think about for when the time is right?
for everyone here who's lost a child.
Thank you for your comments. I won't be taking DD to the funeral today because the parents have asked for children not to attend. I will go myself though and pay my respects and support the family. I have decided to take some of the chinese lanterns down to the coast with DD to let them float away over the water while she says goodbye to her friend. I think she would be helped by some kind of ceremony like that to say goodbye.
I imagine the school will do something in September and there will be an opportunity then I'm sure to discuss fundraising ideas among the parents and DD's school friends.