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by Kristen Okabayashi, Hope Principal

We shared earlier today (Tuesday) about the loss of our dear Hope Parent, Jana Layman (Ablin). I am personally feeling some of the same emotions that you might be feeling also: sadness, anger, grief, and disbelief.

As we talk with the students at school, I thought it might be helpful to share some recommendations that we have learned from counselors:

  1. Stick with what we actually know about the situation – do not make assumptions or guesses about what happened, and use simple words with students.
  2. If your child will be regularly around the student who is grieving (Josh is in third grade, Serena is in fifth grade), encourage them to treat the student as they usually do, sharing care and friendship but also keeping the friendship consistent with how it was before the loss.
  3. Find a tangible way to share care and love, such as some of the ideas we suggested earlier – a card in particular, or another small gift of love.
  4. Reassure students that this is not something that commonly occurs, as it is normal for them to be scared and anxious.
  5. Realize that this type of loss can trigger a grief response in others who may have recently experienced grief or loss.
  6. Pray with your child together.

I was able to join the prayer vigil for Jana last night, which was helpful for me. As adults, we need to care for ourselves as well! While a situation like this comes with deep feelings of sadness, anger, and helplessness, we have to remember the words of scripture that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), that Jesus was sent to “bind up the broken-hearted and provide comfort for those who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2), and He “is with us always, even to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20). I keep reminding myself to pray to let go of this burden, as God does not want us to carry His burden. I am glad to talk more about this, or help get resources for you or your family. I am thankful we are in an environment where we can journey through this together.