"Today is going to be great," thought Kate. Her best friend, Sarah, had been absent
from school for the last week. Without her, hanging upside down from the monkey bars
had been boring. The walk home from school had been lonely. She missed Sarah at lunchtime,
But today Sarah was coming back and things were going to be back to normal. Sarah
had missed so much school because her grandmother had died. Kate thought that was
really sad. She hoped Sarah would be feeling better by now.
But when Sarah got on the bus, she seemed different. She tried to smile, but she
didn't look happy. Kate had a lot to tell her, but it didn't seem like she was really
listening. Sarah barely talked at all. What was going on?
How People Grieve
When someone dies, the
people who loved that person may seem different for a while. They might cry a lot
or feel angry or confused. Or
maybe, like Sarah, they're just more quiet than usual.
These are different ways of coping, or grieving (say: GREEV-ing). Coping and grieving
are two words that describe the way people adjust to or deal with a difficult change
in their lives. The death of a loved one is a big change, and people cope and grieve
in different ways. That's OK. There isn't one right way to grieve.
It's hard to know which ways you will cope or grieve until you face a difficult
change. You might want to be alone and sit in your room. Or maybe you would want to
talk with your mom, dad, or another grown-up about the person you miss. You also might
want to scream at the top of your lungs — even if you're usually a calm kid.
And some kids might just want to get back to normal life — go to school,
play, do the regular things they usually do. All these feelings are normal and a person
might experience a whole lot of different feelings while he or she is going through
this hard time.
How You Can Help
When it's a friend who's dealing with the death of a loved one, you might be able
to help them. Just still being a friend is important. How nice it feels to see a good
friend when you are feeling low! You may feel shy about it, but it might be a good
idea to bring up the subject. For example, Kate could say, "Sarah, I'm sorry about
That's a way for Kate to let Sarah know that she feels sad for her. It may help
Sarah start talking about her feelings. But it's also OK if Sarah doesn't want to
talk much about it. Kate also could simply say: "If you want to talk about it, I will
listen." That's a really kind thing to say.
Don't be surprised if your friend doesn't want to talk. But if your friend does,
it can help to remember and to talk about the good times when the person was alive.
It's also OK for you to sometimes cry with your friend who feels so sad.
Kate wanted Sarah to be her old self, but that doesn't always happen right away.
Some sadnesses stick with a person for a long time. At first, the person may not feel
like playing or having fun like he or she used to. After more time goes by, most people
do feel happy again even though they still miss the person who died. You might want
to talk to grownups about how they felt when a loved one died and what it was like
for them as they started to feel better.
If, after a while, you are worried because your friend doesn't seem to be getting
back to being his or her old self, tell a parent, school
counselor, or teacher that you are concerned. That way your friend can get help
with sadness or other feelings he or she might have.