Dear Carol

Dealing with a tragic loss

Two days ago, a girl in my seventh-grade class died in a car accident. Everybody is a wreck. I wasn’t very close to her, so it didn’t hit me as hard, like some people have been crying all day, but I did cry. I’d like advice on how to help other people to recover.

-Sad Helper

Dear Sad Helper,

I’m so sorry for the girl’s family and for your whole community. Her death will leave a permanent mark on her closest friends. It may make some think about (and value) their own lives more and it may leave some feeling heavy-hearted for a long time.

Everyone grieves in different ways. Your classmates who feel terrible are allowed to feel terrible, while the kids who knew her less well need not feel guilty about smiling and flirting and joking in the hallways. Don’t avoid the saddest kids. Include them in a on regular conversations, and if you ever feel like it, during a quiet moment, say “You, must really miss -----.”

Perhaps your school can honor her memory in a formal way or establish a scholarship in her name. Perhaps teachers can have a service, plant a tree, or ask everyone to write or draw something for a book in the library. Mourning takes time. This girl will never be forgotten, but someday even her friends will be able to think about her with affection and not just wrenching pain.

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by Carol Weston | 2/1/2016