When Valley students return from winter break, some of them won't have their usual classmate sitting next to them.
"They're going to miss them like they would miss anybody," said Dr. Don Burchfield at Maricopa County Counseling Services in Glendale.
Aniarael Macias, 13, in Casa Grande, 13-year-old David "Sebastian" Sherrill in Chandler, and two 6- and 8-year-old girls in Tolleson were all allegedly killed by one of their parents between Christmas and New Year's Day. The first day back following break will likely be the first time students hear the gruesome details of why their friend is no longer around.
"It's going to be very confusing for the brain to pick up, because they're thinking 'protector, lover, person that I can trust,'" Burchfield explained.
He says as students return to the classroom and learn about those holiday tragedies, "age" will be key in how much they understand. For instance, young classmates of the two Tolleson girls: "They understand that they're not going to be there anymore but where they went, how they died, that's not going to register now," he said.
But classmates of the teenage victims, Burchfiled says, will likely take the losses harder.
"That school is going to be going through shock if he was a popular kid. These kids are going to start asking a lot of questions at school. I would have a lot of counselors," Burchfield added.
CBS 5 News tried getting in touch with officials at the Tolleson district, as well as the Chandler Unified school district, to figure out what their grief plan will be on Monday. Due to winter break, no one was available to speak with us.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.