ALL NEWS

Grief and tragedy: How to navigate the conversation with children

Jan 5, 2023, 12:44 PM | Updated: 4:00 pm

In Enoch, Utah, parents throughout the community will likely be having a tough conversation with th...

Alecia Jones, right, with her daughter Brooklyn, 13, places a Mini Mouse stuffed animal by police tape near a home where eight members of a family were killed in Enoch, Iron County, on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. Brooklyn was friends with one of the victims. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to grief, proper communication can leave a lasting impact on children and teens. How do we talk to them about tragedy in a way that both protects and prepares them?

In Enoch, Utah, parents throughout the community will likely be having a tough conversation with their kids about the recent deaths of eight members of their community, thought to be a case of murder-suicide. 

Parents may be deciding whether to shield their children from the unfortunate reality or prepare them for what they may hear in school hallways. 

Jenn Oxboro, a licensed social worker specializing in family trauma, told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic that when parents don’t know what to say or do, they often do or say nothing.

“That can be confusing,” said Oxboro. “[Children] take on shame or guilt about asking questions.”

 

Kids cue on parents’ emotions and reactions. Because of this, Oxboro points out, it is OK to explain to them why parents don’t know what to say and that may create a safe space for a conversation. 

 Oxboro also advises telling your kids you hear their concerns and validate their sadness and fear.

“Being heard, being scene, been understood, is just so essential, especially in our hardest moments,” she said. 

Additionally, Oxboro said send a clear message how you work to keep your family safe. Rather than blaming another family, instead offer insight on how you and your family personally keep each other safe. 

Lastly, acknowledge that children are emotional thinkers and lots of topics are much more emotional for them. Instead of telling them not to worry, Oxboro said, first tell them you understand why they are worried.

Iron County School District grief resources

For those in the Iron County School District, communications foundation coordinator Shauna Lund said resources are available for teachers, students and families, including as a crisis-intervention team with trained counselors and social workers who are already familiar with the students.

Lund said teachers in the school district met this morning to discuss ways to help their students and what kind of support they can offer.

“Listening, connecting with student and checking in . . . ,” said Lund. “Just [letting them] know that someone cares about them.”

The school district is working with community members who have reached out to create a crisis-response team.

Finally, the Iron School District is making consolers available to answer questions students may have. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) or the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (1-801-583-2500).

If you or anyone you know is dealing with Domestic Violence and needs help, call 1-800-897-LINK or visit udvc.org

Grief counseling and support systems in Utah: ome.utah.org

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

The hidden dangers of too much sugar

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Health Educator Troy Duell to learn about the hidden dangers of sugar.

4 hours ago

...

Alex Cabrero

South Jordan residents react to thousands of tumbleweeds in front of their homes

As heavy winds blew through a Daybreak neighborhood in South Jordan, avoiding tumbleweeds kind of became a sport.

14 hours ago

Salt Lake City International Airport is also being impacted by the winterstorm moving through Utah....

Mark Jones

Delays, cancelations reported at Salt Lake City International Airport

As of 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, airport officials said 146 flights had been delayed, which is 39% of the departing flights.

15 hours ago

Crews working on a power pole that was damaged when heavy winds blew through the area near Shivwits...

Derrick Jones

Power restored to thousands, work continues, after winter slams Utah

Rocky Mountain Power attributed the outages to power lines downed or damaged by the wind and snow.

19 hours ago

Dusk on the last day of the 2024 legislative session at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Frida...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko

The Utah 2024 Legislative Session is over. Here’s what lawmakers did

Utah lawmakers made the most out of the 2024 general legislative session, passing 591 bills, surpassing last year's previous high of 575.

22 hours ago

Tumbleweeds surround an Eagle Mountain home on March 2, 2024. (Photo credit: Brennen Katsos)...

Josh Ellis

High winds hit Wasatch Front as storm moves in

Winds will continue to increase over western Utah valleys Saturday ahead of a front and spread into southern Utah.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Grief and tragedy: How to navigate the conversation with children