Archway Cicero Elementary Parent Death

Start Date: 05/20/2019


I received a call from the Vice Principal late Sunday afternoon requesting a team to visit the school Monday morning in support of a 1st grader who lost his mother very unexpectedly that that weekend. We have been deployed to the school several times before in past years and the school is part of a charter network of schools who have also used our services in the past several years. No other teams were available so I decided to deploy because of the relationships we had created with the administrators. It was an unusual grief support deployment since it was a parent death so impact on other students was minimal. On arriving, I met the VP in her office and she explained the particulars of the situation and that the student was in school, a decision by the father, to put some normalacy in his day after his loss. She asked us to spend the first hour of school with just him and then we would possibly visit the classroom. His teacher brought him to the VP office and stayed for about 10 minutes after introductions, all very “upbeat”, what a sweet dog, etc. then left so it was just Yodi, the boy and I sitting on the floor interacting. The door was open to the hallway so staff walking by would stop when they saw us, stick their head in and comment about the cute little dog, some coming in to pet him, most probably aware of the situation, all pretty “upbeat”. We talked about a range of topic (pets, school, soccer, legos, favorite animals, camp, friends, bikes...) and pet Yodi who laid with the boy. He wiped his eyes a 4 or 5 times during the visit but seemed to be trying to be strong and “normal”. It was rather tough. Once he said “My mother died this weekend and my father lost his car.” Another “Last night I dreamt my mother was alive but I know she’s not”. Walking a fine line between being supportive, “I’m so sorry” and not going down a path that might have taken the conversation deeper, was somewhat challenging. Usually you have Counselors available nearby when that type of support is needed. He really seemed to like Yodi being there and there was pretty constant boy-dog engagement. Another teacher came and got him after about an hour. He thanked us for coming and was pretty excited about Yodi’s trading card, showing it to the teacher and hugging Yodi. We visted with some of the other students for about another 20 minutes in the hallways and lobby area. The VP was in a meeting and there didn’t appear to be further need for us so the admin staff thanked us for being there and supporting the boy and we left.

Agency: Archway Cicero Elementary School