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How to talk with your child about death

student death



Dear Parent/Caregiver:

All of us at Washington Elementary School are saddened to receive news this weekend of the unexpected death of a Washington Preschool student.  We have a team of counselors assisting our students in dealing with this sad news.

We all react in individual ways to this type of event.  Things such as developmental levels, our relationship with people impacted, our previous experiences of loss, and our personal perception of death impact how we deal with this event.  We should expect, try to understand, and accept a variety of emotions and behaviors.  The most important thing we should do is to be supportive and encourage discussion about the events, our feelings, and what we can do in response to it. 

We encourage you as parents and caregivers to read over the following list of ways you can help your student deal with these events and to use them as you feel is appropriate.


What can I do as a parent?

  1. Be available and willing to discuss the events and honestly share your feelings about them.
  2. Allow your student to express fears and feelings.  Let him/her questions things without being judgmental. 
  3. Maintain your daily routines as it offers students a sense of security.
  4. Be present and watchful of your student in the days and weeks ahead.  Watch for any changes in behavior.  If you do notice a change, talk them over with a school counselor.
    1. Washington Elementary:  Sandy Thomson, 257.6570, Ext. 4047
    2. Lincoln Elementary:  Scotti Hagensick, 257.6560 Ext. 3060
    3. Middle School:  Heather Coon, 257.6530 Ext. 2108
    4. High School: Pat Rottinghaus, 257.6510 Ext. 1212
  5. Give assurance of love, support, and safety.
  6. Be patient.  Students may express a variety of emotions with a short period of time.
  7. Young students will struggle to understand the finality of death.  Be patient as they continue to ask questions.
  8. Be thoughtful as young children may appear to move on quickly, but then come back to the death. 
  9. As you discuss death, use the words dead, died, or death.  Avoid the words such as passed away, passed on, or sleeping, as these words are confusing to young children.    
  10. A helpful website: https://www.schoolcrisiscenter.org/


School Counselors will be available in the days and weeks ahead.  Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you and your family.





Kara Shannon, Principal

Sandy Thomson, Elementary Counselor

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