How can I help children cope with a classmate’s sudden death?

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Susan J. Kay

Q: If youngsters in your class had a schoolmate who died suddenly, how would you help them?

A: Cathechists teach the gift of consolation and the holiness of grief. We believe the promise of our baptism: we have put on Christ and share in eternal life. You as catechist are in a unique, privileged position to help them grieve.

Plan carefully. Before the class meets, talk with your DRE. Invite her and the pastor to sit with the class as you offer prayers for the young person, his/her family, and his/her friends. Help all the youngsters, even those who might not have known the deceased, to offer and experience the strength and comfort of the Christian community.

After class, with the help of your DRE, email your students and the adults who care for them, to ask if they would like to plan a prayer service remembering their friend. Families then have an opportunity to experience the shared sadness. Invite everyone to participate in the ritual of mourning.

We believe that God in Jesus Christ lives within us individually and in the community through our baptism and participation in the sacraments. God does not abandon us in our sorrow and loneliness. Scripture says that God heals the brokenhearted. We believe what the Second Vatican Council teaches us — that we are the People of God. God walks among us as we walk with each other in good times and in bad. This is the essence of sacraments: the grace of God strengthens us to love and comfort one another.


SUSAN J. KAY, M.Ed, is a faculty member for the Masters in Ministry Program, St. John’s Seminary, Archdiocese of Boston. She’s also a member of the Archdiocese of Boston Ecumenical and Interreligious Council, and a religious education publishing consultant with William H. Sadlier Inc.


Image credit: By Africa Studio / Shutterstock 311611304

This post comes from the Catechist archives.


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