WENDELL, N.C. (WNCN) – The sudden death of a student at Wendell middle school on Monday may have parents looking for ways to comfort their children during this time.
When it comes to traumatic events, finding ways to cope can be a difficult process for a child.
“Death is a novelty for a child so they might be curious, you know what has happened to this person, are they in heaven, that’s very natural question to ask right? Is it going to happen to me, am I safe?” Ashish George said, Public Policy Director for North Carolina’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI NC).
University of North Carolina professor of Psychiatry, Amy Ursano, said a parent’s conversation should be as honest as it can be.
“Let than your teen know that I’m here and we’re here and here’s the space. I’m not gonna force you to talk about this but I also know I want to talk about this,” Ursano said. “I want to understand where you are and sometimes sharing where the parent is, is super helpful.”
She said the conversations to have with your child typically depend on the age group, too.
“I think it is important for people to answer the questions that their children may have quite honestly, but not to overwhelm them with too much detail,” Ursano said. “For older children, you can have more of a conversation around understanding what they know about what has happened, what are the facts that they understand and to be available for them in a timeframe that makes sense”
For teachers, North Carolina Association of Educators President, Tamika Walker Kelly, said there are resources.
“As an organization, we provide resources such as extended grief counseling and opportunities for our members to engage with other mental health professionals across the country,” Walker Kelly said.
When it comes to having a conversation with your child Ursano said not everyone processes things the same.
“I think being honest, available, providing reassurance and support, and knowing that this may take some time, it is a process for everyone and it’s very individual,” Ursano said.