Death of a Parent

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by LuvPreKTeachin, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. LuvPreKTeachin

    LuvPreKTeachin Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2006

    I was wondering if you guys have any specific resources, books or ideas about dealing with death. We have a 3 year old girl (who we'll call) Sue, who's mother died last Friday. Her mother had been battling cancer for some time and hospice was called in. (She found out it was back when she went for her 6-week post pregnancy checkup with Sue.) I don't know how long she had been in the hospital before passing.

    Sue doesn't seem to be too upset that her mother is gone but it has upset her that her two older sisters are gone. They aren't Sue's dad's children and mom's sister took them with her to another state. Dad is backing off in fear that he'll not be allowed to see or speak with them if he fights it... in addition to having to grieve for his wife and raise Sue alone. We're wondering if maybe, since Sue isn't used to seeing mom on a daily basis, if it just hasn't "hit" her yet. She was playing and excited about her new shoes at the viewing and funeral. I know at this age it's difficult to explain but it's was kinda weird (for me) to not see any kind of (I guess adult-like response) emotion. They said that she did want to hug her mom in the casket but that was it.

    It's just a sad situation all together... :(

    Crystal
     
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  3. ilena12

    ilena12 New Member

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    Oct 10, 2006

    Its not really going to hit Sue yet. She doesn't really understand what is going on, just that mommy is not there. What is really going to hurt her is when she realizes it in a few years. I was around her age when my dad died. The best thing for you to do is to be there for Sue. Answer any questions she has, to help her dad in any way necessary. Maybe have a talk with her dad about talking to Sue about death. Be patient with her, let her come to you. If she talks about her mom listen. It not really going to hit her when she is older and that is when she will need you the most....
     
  4. LuvPreKTeachin

    LuvPreKTeachin Rookie

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    Oct 11, 2006

    Thanks! We all (the staff) pitched in and bought her the mother-daughter Willow Creek angel figurine. We gave it to her dad and asked that he put it in her room to have as she grows up. Luckily, we are a Christian facility and the church/pastor are upstairs. Our pastor and director prayed with the family and talked with them about how to talk to Sue. She hit another child today and I asked her why she hit them. I said, "Are you mad or sad?" She said, "No, but my daddy is." It just broke my heart!

    Crystal
     
  5. Myname

    Myname Comrade

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    Oct 12, 2006

    OH this poor child. With children death doesn't hit them until 3 to 6 months after the death. The same with a move. This is when the behavior will start to really come out. This is when you will all have to be really understanding with her.
     
  6. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Oct 12, 2006

    It is sad. I have a little boy in my class this year who lost his dad in a motorcycle accident a year ago this week. It hits him at the most unusual times.......and I wish I could take the pain away for him. So sad! :(
    Sorry, I don't have any resources or ideas to share, just wanted to share with you that I understand how hard it can be. Poor little babies! I just give him as much love as I can, and let him talk about it whenever he feels the need. He knows I will always listen, and I think that is most important. Of course the child in my class is six, and so he is able to verbalize his feelings much better then your Sue will be able to.
     
  7. PurpleTweety

    PurpleTweety Companion

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    Oct 13, 2006

    I don't know if this idea will be at all appropriate for the situation but I'll put it out there anyway. We had a 1st grader whose mother died during the school year a couple of years ago. Someone close to the family had a picture of the mother and cropped and enlarged the face. They then printed on the stuff you can iron on to material. They had a seamstress make the little girl a rag doll with her mother's face. She carried it with her everywhere for the rest of the year and it really seemed to help her.
     
  8. LuvPreKTeachin

    LuvPreKTeachin Rookie

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    Oct 14, 2006

    Oh, that is such a wonderful idea about the doll! I may ask her Dad if he's okay with that and if he thinks that she would be okay with that, as well. Thanks!

    Crystal
     
  9. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Oct 14, 2006

    Maybe it is just me, but that idea seems creepy!
     
  10. teachingmomof4

    teachingmomof4 Groupie

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    Oct 14, 2006

    I was 2 1/2 when both of my parents were killed in a motorcycle accident. Of course, I don't remember them at all, only the memories that my family has told me. I don't know that it ever really "hit" me that they were gone. As I have grown up and become an adult myself, I have often wondered what it would be like to have them back and what life (how different) would be like if they had lived. Of course I am sad that they are gone and that I don't remember them at all. I am also sad that my children will never meet them. They don't know about them but I do think that I would like to tell them...just don't know how to go about it.

    As for you little one, I think that she is lucky that it happened (if it had to happen unfortuantely) when she was young. I think that it would have been a lot harder if she had been older. I don't know how to help her heal but to give her the memories of her mother and lots of photos. That, her family can help her with.
     
  11. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Oct 15, 2006

    I seriously don't think you should be putting the face of this child's mother on a doll...that's just not right...that's like shoving it in her face all day long. Let her begin a normal school life at this point. When she is at home, she can have photos to look at and let her do it in her own way...She is so young and cannot make her own decisions. You need to be the adult here and let things be...not presenting her with this doll with her dead mom's face on it.
     
  12. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Oct 15, 2006

    Grammy, you nailed it on the head! Those are my thoughts exactly. Photo albums, pictures in frames, a locket with her mother's picture inside would be great, a rag doll with her mom's face..........creepy!
     
  13. LuvPreKTeachin

    LuvPreKTeachin Rookie

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    Oct 15, 2006

    I wasn't suggesting that the doll be shoved in her face. I thought the idea of her having something to perhaps cuddle with at night or hug at home when she's sad, would be comforting. When my 20 year old nephew died last November, my sister-in-law had his picture put on a pillow and throw blanket to cuddle with at night. When his niece (who is almost 3) gets sad and says that she misses him... she goes, pulls it off my sister-in-law's bed and cuddles with it. Once she feels better, she lays it down and goes and plays. Besides... Dad may not agree with the suggestion either. I just thought it was a unique idea. Everyone has a different way of dealing with grief and a different idea of what is comforting and what isn't.

    Crystal
     
  14. ad65shorty

    ad65shorty Companion

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    Oct 17, 2006

    When I taught 1st grade, one of my student's father's died suddenly in a plane crash. It was very traumatic for the whole community. It was a life flight plane crash so he was flying in to save someone's life and died himself. Tragic!

    This is different, I know, but I'll tell you what I did.

    My principal wrote a letter to all of the students' parents in my class explaining the situation and asked them to answer any questions their kids had. I then sat the kids down myself and talked with them, answered questions, cried with them, etc. It was difficult to answer questions because I wasn't allowed to bring in religion (and we are predominately the same religion in my school); that's why I appreciated the letter from the principal.

    I wasn't able to attend the funeral or the viewing (we were out of town), but I made sure others from the school were there. I sent a sympathy card to the family and stopped by numerous times to visit them. The day I found out, I stopped by and brought a little bear for the girl to let her know I was thinking about her.

    When she came back to school, we tried to get right back into routine with her. She had a picture of her dad that I let her keep in her desk, as well as his old t-shirt (she wore it for days, then eventually just carried it around with her). She was always sad, and I encouraged her to write about it during our writing time in class.

    I was always in charge of our end-of-year program. The theme is heroes, and the kids get to choose a hero to honor. Of course, this little girl chose her dad. As a team, we chose her to share it at the program. It was very healing for everyone, but especially for her. It was neat to hear her honor her dad in her own way, in her own words.

    They eventually moved away, but we exchange Christmas cards each year. I actually got to see them this last summer, which was so fun! Mom says she still cries every night...

    Just be there for her. If she acts like it doesn't bother her, then don't overreact. If she needs you, then be there to listen, to talk, to cry. If she wants to bring in something to cuddle or to share with the class, let her. Just do things at her pace and be aware of her emtions.

    Good luck! You sound like a concerned teacher, which is the best thing she can have right now!
     
  15. pastdweller

    pastdweller Rookie

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    Oct 22, 2006

    When I was in kindergarten, a classmate's mother died of leukemia. We all made sympathy cards for him. You could have the students make cards for Sue saying, "Dear Sue, I am sad and sorry."
     
  16. pastdweller

    pastdweller Rookie

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    Oct 31, 2006

    If a kid's parent died of accidental cause, would it be okay to use the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty? I always look at it that Humpty Dumpty died because having no shell is like having no body-one cannot live broken into pieces like that and they couldn't put him together again. Eggs have to break because that's how we get at the edible substance inside, so accidental death could be looked at as a bad thing that had to happen.
     
  17. teachingmomof4

    teachingmomof4 Groupie

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    Oct 31, 2006



    I'm not sure this would be a good senario to use, especially if the parent died in some sort of tragic accident. I can only talk from experience (my own) and, even though I was only 2 1/2 when my parents were killed, it is hard to imagine what exactly happened. I have heard the story and know what happened to them but it is still hard for me to cope with it at times, especially when I was younger. I think using the Humpty Dumpty senario may scare the children more than you might think. Just my thoughts.
     

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