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How to help kids cope after a tragedy

Posted at 11:12 AM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 13:12:03-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- After deputies say two young girls were killed by their father in the Foothills last week, grief counselors were on hand at the girls school.
 
Mackenzie and Haylee Parker attended Ventana Vista Elementary. They were eight and five years old when the Pima County Sheriff's Department says they were shot by their father Levi, who then turned the gun on himself.
 
Nine On Your Side sat down with experts to talk about how you can help your child deal with grief. Fear, shock, anger and sadness are all emotions associated with a death or tragedy, said Eddie Ornelas with CODAC.
 
"Simply acknowledging those emotions I think is a really important step toward recovery and healing," Ornelas said. 
 
Ornelas recommends that parents be honest, and let your kids ask questions. 
 
"It's so important to have a voice during this time to talk about any questions, any concerns," Ornelas said. "In our family we actually do family meetings on a weekly basis, and it gives us an opportunity to talk about daily events, school events."
 
When kids ask why something bad happened, Ornelas says your best bet is to be honest. Ornelas suggests if you don't know the answer to something, tell them you don't know but you are there for them. Also, provide any facts that might clear up any misinformation.
 
"It's important to stay calm," Ornelas said. "It's important to open up the dialogue, give permission to express feelings and thoughts concerns."
 
CODAC offers counseling services for individuals, kids and families. You can call (520) 327-4505.