Monday, November 12, 2007

death and dying

Ugh. What a way to start a new week. I still haven't fully gotten over the experience from this morning. I spent all day scared to death about what I was going to tell the frog bloggers. Obviously I would leave out the part about the cannibalism, but even just telling them one of our beloved frogs croaked (how many times did I hear that joke today?) worried me! I found my copy of the book, "The Tenth Good Thing about Barney" and then realized to make the book meaningful I would have to outright lie and tell them I went out this morning and buried our friend Bubbles in our school's nature center. (I didn't. In my defense I wasn't thinking clearly at that moment in time and burying the frog was the least of my worries.)

Ok, so, memorial service? Our fabulous guidance counselor suggested singing "It ain't easy being green".

I had a pit in my stomach all day and I could hear the death march playing in my head as I went to pull my frog bloggers for our small group. One wanted to stay and finish his lesson, and since I let group be a choice I went ahead and let him. So it is just me and froggy 2.

We get to my office and Froggy 2 sees the beautiful new aquarium I bought for the frogs this weekend. He giggles and looks for the frogs. Which is when I sputter out the words about what happened and wait for the chaos.

"Oh, he die? He eat him? Where is he?"
Obviously I didn't tell him one frog ate the other... first graders just think like that.
"Oh look, he sad. he need mom. he lonely. he need friend. he hide 'cause he sad. Can I feed him?"

And that was that. We blogged about the new home and that one died, but it ended there.

Last year one of the little ones in my classroom lost her mother to a sudden illness. I was devastated and ran to our fabulous guidance counselor for help on how to even begin to approach helping this little one through her grief. She gave me articles to read and what I learned surprised me, yet proved to be true. The ages of 5-8 seem to be the most logic and concise about processing death and dying. They take it very literally and don't grieve as much as we do at other stages in life. A great loss like losing a parent might be grieved later on in another stage of development, but for the most part six year olds are very matter-of-fact about death. This proved to be true for my little one who looked at me and said, "You know why I was gone yesterday? My mom got sick and died. Now I am suppose to be a sad girl without a mommy". I fought back my own tears and tried to process ways I could respond.

I suppose my frog bloggers are in the same matter-of-fact stage where death is a fact. I am going to have to be careful to let my own trauma interfer with their natural death processing.


Blink said...

From the mouths of babes come so much wisdom. Hey...since when are six year olds supposed to be the comforters? Oh...just everyday in an elementary school! Sounds like it went well.

Suzanne G. said...

Such a blessing that the kids are so matter of fact at this age. I wonder how one would deal with this with preschool and toddler children.

Eleanor Morrison said...

it's really interesting to read that age thing -- my parents separated when I was 6, divorced when I was 7, and I've always remembered my response to it as having been a very logical, almost cold, "okay this is what is happening." nice to hear there's some other explanation than that I was a heartless unloving child. of course, I suppose the two explanations are not mutually exclusive... hmmm, lol