Helping kids cope with a sudden death

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

EAU CLAIRE, WIS. (WEAU) -- "I think the first thing people often experience is that sense of shock and numbness," said Amy Segerstrom. She is the Coordinator of The Healing Place in Eau Claire.

It is a feeling you may have experienced with an unexpected death.

"That sense of disbelief, how could this happen, why did this happen?" She added.

But when it is someone whose life is built around kids like Osseo-Fairchild Superintendent Dennis Geissler, there are bound to be questions, and some confusion.

"There's just a whole variety of emotions that can happen," she said.

Segerstrom says kids deal with grief differently. She says young kids may not always have the language to talk about how they feel, so paying attention to what they play with or small things they say can help tell a story of their emotions.

"They may say one or two sentences about what they're feeling and then skip off and go play, but for them they might feel like they've had an entire conversation about what they're feeling inside," she said.

Segerstrom says you can start the conversation by simply asking how their day was, all the while being attentive and reflecting back what they say.

As for older kids, she says they may ask more questions. But some may keep to themselves. Segerstrom says they are at a point in life working toward independence. She says watch for changes in behavior, but give them space.

"Let them know they're cared about, they're loved, that you're there, but just to trust the child at this point, they are doing the things to take care of themselves," Segerstrom added.

And she says, it is a good time to remind kids of the people in their lives, should they need help.

"It would be a great opportunity for that conversation to begin, to let people know when we are troubled it's important we do seek help, and there are people we can turn to that will be able to help us," Segerstrom added.

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