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Any advice to help a bereaved little girl in my class?(10 Posts)
Hi all. I teach Year 1 in our local primary school and have a little girl in my class aged 5 who's mum has just lost her baby girl at 24 weeks. Her waters broke last week and she was in hospital but the baby sadly died this week. I am not sure whether she was delivered or died before she was born. Her aunty brought her to school yesterday and told me the news but said the little girl hadn't been told yet. She is a bubbly little girl but also very sensitive. She was missing her mum a lot as she was in hospital and yesterday every time she said how much she missed her mum my heart was breaking for her. She has no idea what is to come. I am not at work today as my own dd is poorly but I'm so worried about this little girl if she comes in having to be with a supply teacher. She was so excited about being a big sister, knew what her sister's name was going to be and will be so devastated. She has two older brothers and I think she was looking so forward to having another girl.
I just wondered if anyone had any advice about how best I can help this poor little girl deal with her loss. Obviously I don't know how the family will deal with it - whether she will see her sister, go to the funeral etc but I feel that as her teacher I am partly responsible for helping her. I will obviously tell her she can talk about her sister whenever she wants to, to come and find me if she is upset and that it is ok to be upset. I thought about maybe giving her a book to write or draw in if she wants to express her feelings or maybe write to her sister. Any other suggestions would be so welcome. Thanks.
Sorry to hear about the family's sad loss
At that age their reactions can vary so much that it's hard to know what she will need from you so my advice would be to take the lead from her. Im a reception teacher and unfortunately I've experienced this a few times now. I've seen children who take it all in their stride and appear not to need much 'help' with it at all. Although I found this alarming at first I took advice from a bereavement counsellor who pointed out that this can be entirely normal. Children can be so black and white about life when they're young that they just accept it. The questions and sadness may come much later.
I liked the stories 'badger's parting gifts' and 'waterbugs and dragonflies' as general whole class reading and there are some lovely circle time chats that have come from those.
No advice but just wanted to say what a lovely teacher you must be. Maybe you could drop the Mum a note to say that you are standing by to help the little girl and would he happy to chat to the mum on the phone (when she is up to it) about how the bereaved sister is doing and how you can support her.
Thanks for taking the time to reply you two. Dd is ok today so I am back in and we'll see what the day brings. I spoke to my TA last night and she said the little girl was so brave. She stood up in front of the whole class and told them what had happened. She said she wanted them to know in case she was feeling a bit sad. Bless her.
I think it would be nice to send a card to the parents and in it put a message to say that you will be there to support her dd. I found this the most helpful when my own baby dd died, ds1 and ds2's teachers ( secondary) wrote a lovely card. Unfortunately ds3's teacher is a bit rough and ready, I do wish he'd had a teacher like you!
Oh and I meant to say, ds3 really did appear to handle dd's death rather strangely at times. When I was still very upset a few weeks later, he told me it was time to "move on". Other couples in our bereavement group said the same thing about their dd. I think it's not that they don't care, but that they didn't really get to know the baby in the way the parents feel they knew the baby. Also they want things to go back the way they were before, which they never really can but after a while things get back to normal-ish. But in the meantime her Mum will probably be crying a lot and at unexpected things. That can be hard for a child, although ds3 and ds4 were lovely recently in a shop when I spotted a pink gingham cushion for a cot with "princess sleeping" on it. Of course it set the tears off but I got lovely cuddles from my boys!
Not quite the same situation but I have a little boy in one of my classes whose 10 year old brother died last year.
Most of the time he acts like a normal 8 year old boy but he is sometimes aggressive or tearful with no real trigger. I find that he appreciates it if you actually talk to him about his brother (I taught the brother too so have a bank of memories I can share with him to go alongside those he shares with me).
A few months ago they had to draw pictures of their families for something, I can't remember exactly now. He asked me if he could draw his brother and I said of course he could. He then said 'but he's dead' to which I replied 'I know but he is still your brother'. The little boy then said 'will he always be my brother?' Whe I said yes, he just said 'oh' and began drawing quite happily. He wasn't upset, he just wanted his brother acknowledged and remembered.
The Heart and the Bottle is another appropriate (& lovely) book which could her her understand Mummy may be sad for a very long time but eventually may start to feel better.
another book recommend - julia donaldson on R4 recently talking about her latest book which has a loss theme
Thanks everyone. particularly you chipmonkey, for taking the time to reply on a subject sadly so close to your own heart. I am so sorry for your loss. Yesterday was not so bad. I found out that the baby died before she was born but the little girl has held her and had her photo taken with her. I suggested the idea of a book to her and we made one together and decorated it at playtime. She became very possesive of it straight away and immediately began drawing pictures for her sister. She seemed to really like the idea so I hope I have done the right thing. I wrote a quick note to the parents to say I hope it's ok with them, I'd hate to tread on anyone's toes.
At times during the day she was just her normal self and other times she was upset or just sitting daydreaming. The family seem to be involving her in everything so that's the lead I'll follow. What has been lovely is how the other children have understood. They have really rallied around her and I think it's amazing how at the age of 5 and 6 they understand each other so well. They seem to know when to just put their arms round her and when to distract her and carry her along in a game. When we were Ofsteded they commented on the excellent pastoral care and how the children really seemed to care for each other. Neverhas this been more evident. It's not something you tend to notice on a day-to-day basis but it is really heart-warming to see.