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Death of DD's friend - how do we deal with this?

(16 Posts)
freddiefrog Wed 03-Apr-13 12:35:18

Over the Easter weekend we heard the very sad news of the death of my 7 years old's school friend.

It was very sudden, no illnesses, they were at school together as usual on Thursday, we'd arranged for them to come over and play during the holidays.

I just don't know the best way to tackle it with DD. they were so young and it was so sudden and they were really good friends.

I know it sounds a bit me me me when a family has lost a child but I'm worried about how she'll take the news and I don't know the best way to deal with it

If anyone has any advice I'd be very grateful

Thank you

Grockle Wed 03-Apr-13 13:21:52

I didn't want to read and run but I am not sure I've got anything helpful to say. I think it depends a bit on your DD's understanding & experience of death but however you tell her, it's going to be a big shock.

I think all you can do is be honest (not necessarily with details), tell her that her friend has died & that it's very sad. You can cry together & talk about her & remember her. I'd follow your DD's lead - let her ask questions & answer honestly.

This has never happened to us, thankfully, although my best friend died when she was 8 & I was 10. She'd been very ill though & so it wasn't totally unexpected. My family gave me time to think, time to talk about her. Not a day goes by when I don't think of her & I still take flowers to her grave for her birthday every year.

When my friend was murdered a couple of years ago, DS saw that I was upset. I told him that my friend had died & that I was very sad because we didn't expect it to happen and because we will miss her. He saw me cry and understood why I was sad.

So sorry for you, your DD and the little girl's family. Thinking of you all.

freddiefrog Wed 03-Apr-13 16:01:29

Thank you!

She's not had a lot of experience with death, my grandmother died when she was 2 but we've not lost any other family members.

I'm dreading telling her. DH is a school governor and has said there will be a special assembly and they've arranged for some counsellors to be there on the first day back so I don't know whether to leave it for a little while. I'm not sure who else in the class knows and whether it would be best to wait when they're all told together with help on hand

DomesticCEO Wed 03-Apr-13 16:06:39

So sorry for your DD sad.

If you wait is there any chance she could find out from anyone else? If so I would tell her to make sure you control how she is told.

As others have said, tell her she has died, you're all very very sad and it's ok to be upset and to talk about her but equally it's ok for me her to not want to talk about it too. Follow her lead.

Winston's Wish excellent resource if you need further advice.

Grockle Wed 03-Apr-13 17:45:35

Be careful if you wait... I think I'd want to tell her myself, so that I know what's been said & it gives her time to process it at home before she returns to school & ask questions. Then she has the help at school as well, if she needs it.

neolara Wed 03-Apr-13 17:55:06

You could have a look at Winston's Wish which is a charity to help bereaved children. It has ideas about what to say and useful books you could look at together.

shabbatheGreek Wed 03-Apr-13 18:00:52

I personally would tell her asap. Just gently, no fibs at all (DC can 'smell' a fib a mile away) - you could say 'sometimes awful, awful things like this do happen...' Would also assure her that you are more than happy to talk about it and answer any questions that you can. If you or her - or both of you - cry PLEASE DONT WORRY ABOUT IT....crying and showing your emotions cannot harm a child in any way. It just shows them that you are sad and not afraid to show your feelings. Loads of cuddles. Maybe make a little card with her and pop it round to the family. Just be open, honest and hold her close xxxx

freddiefrog Wed 03-Apr-13 18:06:40

Thank you!

I'll have a look at the Winston's Wish website, thanks for the link.

We have to tell her before she goes back to school, she's already asking when her friend can come round to play.

We'll talk to her tonight. She understands death/dying, it's just never been someone her own age before. It's always been old/poorly people iyswim.

A card would be lovely, she finds it easier to process stuff if she's doing something else iyswim, she may find it easier to talk to us

I'm dreading it

Thank you!

DomesticCEO Wed 03-Apr-13 18:09:43

I really feel for you sad. My friend's little girl has just been through this as her best friend died of a brain tumour at 4 yrs old. You'd be amazed how resilient children are though.

Best wishes x

Gruntfuttocks Wed 03-Apr-13 18:11:43

Be prepared for some apparently 'odd' behaviour eg sudden swings from being really upset to behaving entirely normally - kids do this, they can only deal with grief in chunks as it were, and will often seem to blank it out for periods of time and go back to playing and so on as before. It seems to be an effective way of coping.

insanityscratching Wed 03-Apr-13 18:12:04

This is a lovely book to share with dd to help her understand death and remember fondly her friendship.

shabbatheGreek Wed 03-Apr-13 18:30:10

Children see everything in 'black or white' - they dont wallow in the grey area in the middle....the area that says things to your brain like 'If only you had not allowed them to do that..' 'why did you not take them to the doctors right away.' The awful 'adult' way of looking at things. Children are much more adaptable and open x

Beatrixpotty Wed 03-Apr-13 20:13:12

Based on my own experience I would be honest,tell her now before she finds out from someone else and answer any questions she has as well as you can.A very good friend of mine,someone I saw 3-4 times a week out of school, died in a car accident when I was seven.I was very upset but totally understood what had happened and wanted to know as much as possible.Can still remember it now.If she was a good friend at school there might be a bit of an adjustment period whilst your dd finds others to play with/sit next to etc so will be a difficult time for her

freddiefrog Wed 03-Apr-13 20:55:46

Thank you

We've told her. I was honest and just said that I had something very sad to tell her and that x had died. She took it well and didn't really ask any questions yet. She understands but I don't think it's sunk in yet

She's snuggled into bed now but I'll go up in a little while once she's processed it.

It wasn't an accident or anything like that. Her friend just collapsed out of nowhere. No signs or anything. All very sudden. There one minute, gone the next sad

Thanks again

shebird Wed 03-Apr-13 20:59:17

I do feel for you and your DD. It is awful having to tell our child something is know will hurt them and make them sad. I had to tell my DD when she was 6 that her cousin died and it was really hard. You just have to get through it and follow her lead. I would tell her soon as she will have some time over the school holidays to come to terms with things. Hugs to you all at this difficult time.

shabbatheGreek Wed 03-Apr-13 21:27:21

Oh my word - the same thing happened to my RL/Mumsnet friend - Triplets - her teenage son passed away going through his garden to meet his friend. What a terrible shock it must be to her family. I am really glad you have talked to your DD - you did the right thing. She will probably have lots of questions - just do your best to give answers.

I know I dont know you or your DD but am sending my love to you both and to the family who have lost their child. Please hug your DD from me xxxx There is no death so sad as that of a child. xxx

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