As you are all aware, our school and community has experienced a great loss this week. Our hearts are broken and we feel nothing but great sadness for family members. We have scooped up our students and placed our protective arms around them providing care, love and comfort.
On Tuesday morning, we set up the library as a quiet, reflective place for students to chat, play board games or write messages of condolence. On Tuesday, teachers and their students created cards. The display boards in the main corridor and out to the undercover area, are full of beautiful words and drawings. I would like to encourage any parents, if they wish to do so, to come inside and read them or lay some flowers at the base of the display boards.
All week we have had a team of psychologists and social workers with whom students were able to chat. Parents have called and also taken advantage of the service. On Monday, there will be support staff present and then once again after the funeral.
At this stage, we have not been advised when the funeral will be held. As soon as I have that knowledge we will post the details on the website and send home a notification.
If you are concerned about the funeral and your child attending:
- If a young person is asking to attend the funeral – it’s likely that they are ready to attend.
- Talk to your child about what might happen at the funeral, so that they are a little bit prepared for what might occur
- If your child has not brought up the funeral, feel free to talk to them about it. You can explain what might happen at a funeral so that they are in a position to make an informed choice.
- Talk to your child about how they will communicate when they have had enough, or if they would like to leave early. Plan to stand or sit towards the back so that you can leave when you are ready.
- Usually funerals have varied events, children and families can chose to attend only some of these as appropriate (eg. Some might not want to attend the burial)
- Be aware of your own feelings towards the funeral, if you are not feeling comfortable attending, there is nothing wrong with seeking support from another parent who will be able to take your child with them.
- There are a lot of good reasons to attend the funeral:
validate feelings of grief
provide opportunities for support
- If your child chooses not to attend, make them aware that there will likely be other events (possibly at school) that they might want to be involved with. Also re-iterate that that choice is perfectly normal and does not indicate that they are feeling any less than their friends.
All children (and adults) experience grief in different ways based on personality, previous experiences and developmental age. Attached to this newsletter is a flyer which may be of benefit.
Your child might be feeling depressed, angry, confused, anxious or any number of emotions. Be honest with them and encourage questions. This can be hard because you may not have all the answers. But it’s important to create an atmosphere of comfort and openness, and to convey that there’s no single “right” way to feel or grieve.
It’s likely that you, too, are grieving and trying to deal with your own emotions. Please remember to take the time to look after yourselves as well. Your child might find it helpful to hear you express your feelings on their friend’s death. Give them the opportunity to express their feelings and recognize that their anxiety and sadness are perfectly normal.
We have a list of many memorial ideas, suggested by our school community. We are planning a school based fundraiser within the next few weeks. I have been approached by Rotary and the Lions Club who have offered support. It is my understanding that a ‘Go Fund Me” account will be set up in the near future by community groups outside of the school. Once details have been confirmed, we will provide these to our school community for those who wish to access this.
At school we are trying our best to return to normal routines and schedules. We are finding this beneficial for our students, and we suggest that you try to do this at home as well.
If your child’s reaction continues beyond a few weeks or negatively impacts of their lives, consider seeking help from a mental health professional – staff at school or your GP will be able to support you with this.
If you have any questions or are worried about your child please do not hesitate to call me on my mobile 0419 360 386 any time – I am available to you 24/7. I will then be able to help or redirect your query to another practitioner.
To the world you
were one person
To us you were