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April 16, 2019

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We have received some very sad news within our Manual family that we need to share with you.

One of our teachers, Sarah Miller, unexpectedly passed away yesterday. Ms. Miller was a

wonderful teacher, loved by all of her students and we will miss her greatly. Her commitment to

students and love for learning has touched us all. We understand that this news may be very

difficult to accept and that we will need to support each other during the grieving process.

We have had counselors and district support personnel in the school throughout the day to help

students talk through their feelings and emotions. Faculty and staff have been instructed to allow

students to access these supports throughout the day as the need arises. Grief counseling services

will continue to be available throughout the week, and longer if needed.

If you wish to have the counselor or school psychologist talk with your child individually, or if

you wish to talk to someone yourself, please contact the school so that we can make

arrangements. On the back of this letter are some tips for helping all students deal with grief and


Funeral arrangements are not known at this time and we will share this information when it

becomes available.

Please contact the school at 485-8241 if you have any additional questions.


Darryl W. Farmer


Helping Children Cope with Grief

Your child’s reaction to death will be determined by his/her developmental level and age.

Ages 3-5​:​ Children see death ​as temporary and reversible, ​not as a permanent process. Children

will often ask when their loved one will return. They fear separation more than death.​ Typical

grief responses can include nightmares and regressive behaviors such as clinging, bedwetting,

thumb sucking, temper tantrums and/or withdrawal.

Ages 5-9: ​Children are beginning to understand that death is permanent, but not universal. Death

is often personified as a ​ghost or boogeyman​. Children ​will often express their grief through


Ages 9-12​: Children understand that death is permanent, personal, and universal. They

understand they, too, will die someday. Death is seen as happening to​only the old or the very

sick.​ They are fascinated with the macabre and the details of death. ​Grief may be exhibited

through physical complaints, moodiness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, or isolation

from peers.

Ages 12​+​: Most adolescents have reached adult levels of understanding about death. Many have

very intense emotions about death and do spend time thinking about death. Some adolescents

challenge death by participating in dare-devil activities, such as drag racing or drug


The following are some suggestions for helping your child cope with the death of a loved one:

Understand the kinds of feelings that your child may have. Fear, sadness, anger, and

confusion are all normal reactions. Your child may express these feelings in

conversation or through his/her actions.

Allow your child to talk about the death and ask questions. Answer questions as

simply as you can. It’s ok to say that you don’t know how to answer all of the


Have your child draw pictures of his/her feelings.

Explain the ritual of funeral ceremonies. Have your child participate in grief rituals as

he/she desires. Remember, your child’s imagination about death may be more

frightening than its reality.

Resume your regular family/school activities and schedules as soon as possible.

Continuity is one way to help your child feel secure.

Reassure your child that you are healthy, you are careful when you drive, and that you

expect to be around for a long time.

Seek help if you have questions about your child’s behavior. Express your concerns

with your school’s counselor, teacher, or principal.

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