Living in Kitsap County, there are few that have been left
the disappearance of a local, young boy…
Even as I type letters and words, I question whether I should
write anything. Then I think about the fact that this tragedy has
directly affected families in our very own community. Children,
parents, school staff and staffs… We are a small community and it
is likely many know someone who knew this family.
Many held out hope for a happy ending, only to discover last
Thursday there would be none. I know I was stunned. Stunned. I
found out via Twitter after receiving a call from my children’s
school stating activities for the evening and following day were
either canceled or postponed. The phone message gave no reason, but
my gut knew. I turned to Tweetdeck and found a link to the Kitsap
Sun reporting on the tragic outcome.
It was in that moment I realized how much hope I had invested in
a positive ending. I realized I had not let myself even somewhat
consider a tragic end. My stomach began to twist and I just wanted
to be with my kids.
I did not know the family. My daughter, who is in the same grade
and went to the same school, was not friends with the boy. But she
knew him. Her classroom was next door to his. I had seen the mother
and boy before, but I did not know them.
Though I did not know them, I am sad. #1 — I am a mother. The
death of any child tears a mother’s heart at it’s root. Secondly,
it hit so close to home… that I had no choice but to talk to my
kids about death. And, Thursday evening I talked to my kids about
what happened. I answered as many questions as I could. The problem
is, there were and still are so few answers.
And that is what makes this tragedy even harder. The questions.
I have an inquisitive fourth grader. My second grade daughter
clearly had safety fears. I struggled – to what extent do I explain
what happened? How much did I really truly know? What is the line?
I knew kids at school would be talking… some children’s parents
have different philosophies regarding how much info should be
shared. I didn’t want to scare my kids, but didn’t want them to be
unprepared and knocked back by “news” from a peer. I gently
answered some hard questions and tried to guide the focus of the
conversation away from specific details.
We spent much of the evening talking about fear and gossip and
being careful not to fall into big stories…
Have you had to break hard news to your children? Do you have a
strategy in place? Are the lines of communication open in your
home? Do you have a child that cries or does he/she pull away? Are
there any resources you recommend to help a child deal with loss?
How about fear? My daughter seems to be asking a lot of questions
about things she fears…
- Jenny Ingram
P.S. I just want to use this space to thank the teachers and
staff at Vinland Elementary… and the school counselors from nearby
schools… for the outstanding job they all did on
Friday. All were affected, and all should be applauded. They
handled the day with such compassion and professionalism. I would
be hard-pressed to have kept it all together had I been in their
shoes. I know the entire week was extremely difficult and to have
traveled such a week and arrived with the news on Friday… my heart
goes out to them… and so does a deep expression of gratitude for
their level of care and concern for our Vinland children. Thank you
Vinland teachers and staff, so much.