5/30/2009 - Important Message from Mrs. Rodriguez

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March 11, 2017

To our Southeast Community,

It is with a heavy heart that we write to inform you of a significant loss for Southeast School and the Mansfield community. On Saturday morning, Demi Grace Fisher, a third grade student at Southeast School passed away after a long illness. She was in the constant care of her loving and attentive family.

We ask, if so inclined, that you take time this weekend to speak with your child(ren) about this and answer any questions that they might have. We have attached an informative guide about grief and loss for you to reference if you would like. Students and adults that are affected by Demi’s death may experience a wide range of feelings, there is no one right way to grieve. We will be going into the third and fourth grade classes on Monday morning to briefly talk with students and answer any pressing questions. While we will not specifically be speaking with students in second grade, first grade, kindergarten, or preschool, Mrs. Mahoney and other support services personnel from the town and district will be available to all students during the school day should any child be in distress and/or need someone to talk. Our hope is to allow students a chance to grieve and ask questions to qualified individuals. We will also have quiet space available for students who wish to have some time to process, but may not want to talk about Demi’s death or the feelings that arise. If you would like to talk further about support in school, please feel free to reach out to either of us. If you feel like your child would benefit from additional services outside of school, please feel free to reach out to Katie Bell, Youth Services Supervisor, at 860-429-3319.

We will be in touch with further information about our plans to help support the Fisher family and the community during this difficult time. Please let us know if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns.


Mrs. Alissa Mahoney, NCSP

Ms. Lauren Rodriguez


Loss and Death

Although loss and death are natural parts of life, helping a child cope after the death or loss of a friend or loved one can be difficult and uncomfortable. There are many books and resources available from the school, community and library that can assist adults as they help their child come to terms with death; a list of a few resources are attached below. When discussing death with a child, it is important to use developmentally appropriate terms and use words such as “death” and “dying.” Euphemisms such as “passed away” or “went away” are abstract and may be confusing, especially to younger children. A variety of feelings are normal; there is no one right way to grieve the loss of a loved one. Being available to listen to and acknowledge feelings in a nonjudgmental way can be very helpful for your child.

Children may need some concrete ways to remember someone, or even a special pet, who has died. Children may also want to reach out to the friends and family of someone who has died. Below are some ideas to help them:

Help your child plant a flower in your yard or special place to remember the person who has died. This can also be a place to visit and talk about the child’s memories or feelings.

A memorial area with pictures, plants, and mementos or reminders of the person in a place that the child can visit every day may also be helpful.

A photo album or collage with pictures, as well as pictures that the child can draw, to remember the person.

A bedtime routine could be to look at the pictures and talk about the person.

Write a letter to the person who has died and then send it up in the sky tied to a balloon.

Create a diary of thoughts, pictures or drawings.

Read a story or watch a video that includes the concept of loss, and ask the child to draw a picture of how the characters might feel.

Write a letter to or draw a picture for the friend or family member of the person who has died.

Offer to help the family of the person who has died (ex. make a dinner or dessert).

The Mansfield Public Library has many books and resources for both parents and children. A library search can be conducted by the librarian or you may wish to do a search yourself (e.g. bereavement and children; death and loss; grief support; etc.). Below are some books that deal with different situations associated with loss and death. Please pre-read the book before reading it to a child, to make sure it is emotionally and developmentally appropriate.

I Miss You: A First Look At Death by Pat Thomas Guiding Your Child Through Grief by Mary Ann Emswiler and James P. Emswiler

What On Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies by Trevor Romain

The Goodbye Boat by Mary Joslin

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide To Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

How Do We Tell The Children? by Dan Schaefer and Christine Lyons Chester

Racoon and The Acorn Full of Memories by Audrey Penn

Saying Goodbye To Lulu by Corinne Demas

Goodbye, Mousie by Robie Harris Geranium

Morning by Renee Graef

The Wishing Tree by Roseanne Thong

If you would like additional support, please contact me by phone (860-423-1611) or email (mahoneyam@mansfieldct.org).

Alissa Mahoney

School Psychologist

Southeast Elementary School