Understandably, students, parents, teachers and the whole community might be feeling a jumble of intense emotions.
One of the most challenging tasks confronting us all is how to explain death to a child. In the midst of one's own grief or in the attempt to comfort another, a child's need to know and understand is often overlooked. Or, adults decide that a child simply won't comprehend what is happening. Or the tremendous upheaval in the normal routines of the household throws the child into a kind of chaos of unexpected events and uncertainty about his or her future. Yet psychologists tell us that children today, shaped by the constant barrage of death portrayed on television and in the movies, are far more aware of death and its consequences than many adults realize.
The decision about what to tell children will depend largely on the age of the child, her or his sensitivity to the subject, and the child's relationship to the deceased. As with the "phases" of grief, much of the actual response of a child will depend a great deal on the relationship between the parent and child, and how the parent chooses to discuss the death itself.
In conjunction with the Or Ami Center for Jewish Parenting, we offer these resources to help guide those of you touched by these tragedies. Please forward these to your friends.
As always, I am available to you and your children for support and guidance. Please contact me at (818) 880-4880 or by email