Letter to Parents in Zimmerman Schools Following Tragedy

Created: 04/02/2013 4:57 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

This is a sample of the letter that went out to parents at Zimmerman schools:

"April 2, 2013

Dear Parents of Zimmerman Middle/High School Students:

We are deeply saddened by the death of Josephine Shields a kindergarten student and Nolan Shields a second grade student at Zimmerman Elementary School.

Counselors will be at Zimmerman Elementary School as needed to help students process their grief and feelings about this tragedy as well as at your child(ren)’s. School personnel have been briefed and given resources to assist children in dealing with grief and loss they may be experiencing.

In dealing with grief, your child may have questions for you. In talking to your child:

Accept their feelings as they are stated. Resist the temptation to minimize the pain, deny their feelings or give advice. Helpful responses may be, "Tell me more about that," or "I wonder if there are other things that are worrying you?"

Be concrete and brief in your answers, especially with younger children. Allow some silence and processing time after a statement.

Do not compare death with sleep or any other sate of consciousness. Young children may end up sleep deprived because of fear that they, too, will die if they go to sleep.

Allow for regressive behaviors. Kids might need to sleep close to an adult for a while as they process their feelings.

Children move in and out of the grief process and it can be very intense for them when they are experiencing the sadness, anxiety or fear. Encourage them to have fun, get noisy, be active and celebrate life in whatever way they can. These periods of reprieve from their grief are important in sustaining health and in recovery.

Please see the attached document for further ideas on how to support your child.
Protect your child from the psychological saturation that comes from watching graphic television coverage.  Monitor or eliminate viewing.  Talk through everything they do see that might be disturbing. 

If you have questions or concerns about your children’s behavior or need assistance in helping them cope with this tragedy, please do not hesitate to call us at 763-274-3180 or stop by the school.

Again, this may be a difficult time for you and your family, please know we are here to assist you in any way that we can."