My son's teacher passed away this week and I don't know what to say to him
When my son came home from school yesterday he told me that he had some bad news.
I thought it would be something like that he got paint down the front of his uniform or hurt himself falling down in the yard.
I was not expecting him to tell me that one of the teachers that he had been close to since starting school had passed away.
In fact when he said 'Tracey died' my immediate reaction was 'Tracey who?', not because I didn't know who she was but because I assumed it had to be someone else or that he had gotten the name wrong.
Tracey started at my son's school at the same time that he did as a teaching assistant. She and my son had endless amounts of time for each other and he would always come home telling me what stories or what games they had played that day.
He was heartbroken when the summer holidays came around and he realised that he would soon be in a new class with new teachers.
He was delighted the following September when the new school year started and it turned out that she would be assisting with several of the classes, including his own.
It wasn't just my son that was very fond of her though. Being a young mum I was intimidated by a lot of the staff at the school and afraid to ask them questions, but Tracey and I were around the same age so I felt comfortable talking to her.
I was completely shocked when he told me that she had passed away from what his principal said was a short illness.
The news left me at a loss as to what to say to him. He's six years old and fully aware of what has happened, but he can't comprehend how someone so young could die.
He had it in his mind that only old people pass away and that it's ok because they had long happy lives with their families. Now he's full of questions that I simply don't have the answers to.
There is no real comfort from words when a young person dies before their time and no matter what I say to him it won't make sense because a loss like this never does.
I've lost family members since he was born but he was too young to know what was going on. I think this will probably be his first real experience with grief.
I was a little older than my son is now when a four-year-old boy who lived near my family was knocked down by a car.
All these years on I can still remember his funeral like it was yesterday and I can still remember being full of the same questions that my son is asking me.
My parents had no answers for me then the same way I have no answers for him now.
I've read a lot of parenting books that give advice on weaning, potty training and how to manage temper tantrums but where is the parenting book on dealing with death?
Children are resilient but that still feel grief deeply and even if comfort feels very far away, letting them know that their emotions are valid will help them get through this tough time knowing they have your support.