Classmate Death

Updated on January 27, 2009
M.S. asks from Philadelphia, PA
13 answers

My daughter is 9 years old and found out her classmate died of a horrible accident yesterday. From my understanding he was playing a game by himself in his room with a belt. The child was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead. School called us to tell us prior to the children. The school just said it was an accident and he past away to the children. My daughter and classmates were scared and had a lot of questions. I sat her down and told her what we knew and the reality of death. She was so confused because she never faced death and didn't understand. This is makeing her question why god did this and when we can see him. School does have counselors to help the kids. My daughter has asthma which hit her heavy last night. She is terrified over this. Any suggestions on comforting as well as her understanding this would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your kind and caring words. Me and my hubby decided to sit her down and talk to her about what we know. First this is a Catholic elementary school and the child who passed was Baptist. We told her that this is not a game and that this was a horrible thing to get a "high" from, which lead to a drug converstaion. Oh my this was hard and long. After much talk she had some understanding, but still is unsure about everything. We agreed that time tells all and if she needed we could talk when she wanted to. As for school they are very unprepared and are working on this now, which sucks because its after the fact. Needless to say the police think there is more to the story and are investigating and the family is silent. The one thing the school did was notified the surrounding schools of this so call game and the incident we are dealing with.

Featured Answers



answers from Sharon on

Both of my daughters lost a dear friend a few years back when he was hit by a car. It is very tough! There are no words that you can say that will take the pain away. To me, the biggest part of their healing was letting them know that we were there to talk to them if they wanted. At school, they also had counselors for the kids to talk to and one of my girls did. It helped her. If you don't think that she would want to do that, maybe you could call the school and ask for some suggestions on what more you can do. Hope this helps.


More Answers


answers from Williamsport on

Tell your daughter that god loves her, and he loves her friend. On earth, many sad things happen, and it's natural to for her to be afraid or angry or sad. Tell her he is with friends in heaven and his whole family will be with him there one day. God is there for her to talk to and help her feel better. Make sure she knows, God did not do this, and he is with her friend now. I would even say prayers with her where you ask nice things for her friend and assure her he is very happy, and take away her sadness and bring her peace. If she starts asking if other people are going to die, just assure her that you love her and will be here for her, and God is there for everyone in heaven, but you will not leave her. Again, in praying with her, voice this concern and ask that you all stay together and keep loving each other. Encourage her to voice her fears just as she has them, because God is her friend and will listen. At her age, she doesn't need to know more than that.
I'm so sorry this happened. Take Care.
ps, Have a real talk with her that when humans do dangerous things, they can get hurt or die. It's not God's punishment, it just true, and it's a reason for her to always be careful and help her friends be careful. But that God loves her friend still and is taking care of him now. Be frank about the choking game. It's a huge and real problem.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

Hi M.,

A helpful way for the children to deal with their feelings of loss is to have the teacher sit all the children in a circle and allow them time to talk about the student's death.

questions that the teacher could ask is:

1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?

2. What are your feelings about your classmates death?

3. What do you think other people are feeling?

4. What is the hardest thing for you?

5. What do you think needs to happen to make things better?

If the school is willing, the International Institute of Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, PA may be willing to send someone over to conduct the circle.

Just a thought. Hope this helps. All the Best. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

have her mmet with the guidance counsler!!!Our pastor said that chronicles of nardia a great way to explain death and after life!!!



answers from Philadelphia on

I agree that there seems to be more to this story. It sounds like the kid was playing the choking game. Many kids are playing this game due to the high they get from passing out. It is normally played with other kids, but some kids decide to venture to play on their own and often die. There are websites devoted to getting the word out to other parents and advising of the signs.

The parents may be ashamed of what happened to their child and don't want others to know because they are still sorting through their own hurt and feelings, which is understandable.



answers from Philadelphia on

When I was in 4th grade, one of my close friends was struck by lightening and died. Unlike your daughter's classmate, she was in the hospital for about a week until she passed, but it was very traumatic. I remember talking alot about it with my family, and with my friends on the phone. Invite her friends over and just let them talk. Encourage her to call them on the phone and talk about it. Try to stay near the room that they're talking so if they say things that aren't true, or they are getting themselves upset, you can intervene. I'm sure she's just so confused by it all, that getting her feelings out will help her deal with this in a healthy manner. She might want to write a poem, draw a picture or a song about her classmate. Encourage her to express what she's feeling in any way that makes sense to her.
I don't know what your faith is, but I grew up with a very strong & loving Christian family, so we already had a concept of what happended to you after death. I also knew that Cindy's family was Christian & she shared the same beliefs. I have no idea how that translates to your situation, but being assured that God takes care of people when they die certainly helped me to deal with it. You migth want to talk to her about what you believe happens to you after death to assure her that her classmate is OK. Faith really helps at times like this.
Good Luck. Kids are resilient - she'll be OK.



answers from Harrisburg on

Hi M.,

I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter is having to deal with such a difficult situation at such a young age. Death is never easy no matter what age. But now is the time to pray to the Lord as to how to handle speaking with her about death. He will give you the words to say so that she can understand and be comforted. As for the school not responding correctly to the situation. We as parents have to be honest with our children and speak the truth when others won't do it. We as parents are our children's first teachers. We can't expect the school to take on the role that we as parents must do in a situation like this one. The Lord will heal all if you seek him. He is a comforter and gives strength that surpasses our understanding. Lean on him at this difficult time. Your family and school will be in my prayers. Take care and God Bless!!!




answers from Philadelphia on

I am sorry you have to deal with this. Your daughter is too young to have to realize that horrible things happen. There is a great book called, "How Do We Tell The Children? A step-by-step guide for helping children two to teen cope when someone dies" by Dan Schaefer, Ph D and Christine Lyons.

My MIL recommended it for me when my grandfather was dying. It is divided by age of child and circumstances of the death/illness and relationship to child. It is a hard book to read but an excellent resource for any parent to have around. The paperback version I got a Border's for $15.

Best of luck with this difficult situation.



answers from Pittsburgh on

You have got some great advice from the other posters. I wanted to just write and say that I wholeheartedly agreee with TS that your school needs to inform EVERYONE-especially the parents why this happened if it was indeed the choking game. To not do so is being negligient in my opinion. PARTICULARLY since this is obviously a game that is being played at your school. If it were me I would explain everything to my daughter. Nine is not too young to start teaching them about the dangers that are out there.



answers from Philadelphia on


This is awful. I am so sorry for this loss.

We lost a close family friend, a child, to cancer, and it was and continues to be traumatic and sad. The guidance counselor at our school was very helpful with our daughter. Also, my daughter, who was 6 at the time, wrote constantly about the friend--poems, stories, etc.--which was great. If your child likes to write or draw, I would encourage her to write or draw about this friend.

As for the classmate dying of the choking game, also known as the fainting game...which is NOT a game...I think your school district is doing a real disservice by telling the kids that he died from an accident, without going further. The choking game is a way kids try to get high.

About 2 yrs ago, a boy in a neighboring school district died from the choking game. Our school district sent home (and e-mailed) a terrific letter to every family in the school district, explaining the choking game, and suggesting how to speak to our kids about it, and, as I recall, giving resources. I have a 9 yr old, and if this were his classmate who died, I certainly would talk to my child about the dangers of the choking game, and how children should tell an adult if anyone ever suggests the choking game...and how it is NOT a game. Some of these kids do this in a group, peer pressure situation, and some do it alone.

Reading this very sad post...well, I am going to talk to my kids about the choking game again today, as it has been a while, and it never hurts to reiterate these important things.

I just looked it up for some resources; signs of kids playing the choking game are listed. Here are a few sites:

If I were in your shoes, I would go to the school district and, well, basically demand that they deal head on with how this child died...not necessarily today, but in a week or the like, so that the children are educated about what NOT to do. I had not heard of this "game" until the child in the neighboring township died "playing" it, and I was so thankful that our school district dealt with this educationally.

Good luck, and I am saddened by this family's loss.



answers from Philadelphia on

M.: I am so sorry to hear about this horrible tragedy. There are tons of wonderful books for children about death and dying. Check on line at amazon. I don't have the names, but if you type in children and death, you get a number of books. At the age of 9, books are a good way for them to understand. I would also have her talk to the counselors at school. Good Luck



answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm so sorry your daughter is going through this. I think you need to find out (discreetly, but from the school, not rumors) the real situation, and until you do so, I would NOT discuss any rumors with your daughter or other children.

If it was indeed an attempt at a "strangulation high" then you need to educate you daughter about that-- in fact, you should anyway, though girls are not nearly as likely to participate, but I would make sure you get your story straight first. These kinds of situations breed rumors, and there is no need to add to the family's or the children's pain by adding in untrue information.



answers from Pittsburgh on

What a terrible accident.
I hope that your daughter understand as a Christian that God did not do this.
He loves her, this child taken too quickly from earth, and all his children be them Catholic or Baptist. By her thinking it was an act of God can breed fear and heighten anxiety and the asthma.

I am sorry for the family of this child. I am sorry for the children that are impacted by this terrible terrible loss.

Silence -- it is a response to your life being torn apart, not necessarily a reflection of not saying anything.

I am so so sorry for the loss of this family, what sheer pain they must be in. :( A tragic death like this impacts much differently than a full circle of life death.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions