Living in Kitsap County, there are few that have been left untouched by 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…
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.