Grief

I know there has to be a lot of fear in the teacher when someone close to a student dies, or a student dies. What can they say or do?

Back in high school, a student died in the middle of the day. He had severe health problems that very few – even friends – knew about. One day, during lunch, he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital. We found out the next morning by announcement what had happened. I had him in my first period English class. The teacher didn’t even pause for a moment. She took attendance and proceeded as if she hadn’t heard a single thing. Several students became outraged and stormed out of the classroom. A student – a friend – someone wasn’t even being acknowledged.

I sat there. I was still in shock over learning the news, and maybe the teacher was too, but she never mentioned the boy once. Perhaps she assumed that we were in high school, and we could deal with something like this. I don’t think that’s true. The teacher had a chance to really bring the class together, but we ended up apart.

I haven’t forgotten that day or that student. He wasn’t someone close, but I had talked to him in passing, joked around. He was part of the classroom in way, and in another way, he was not. I think it’s absolutely vital – even before a tragedy occurs, to create a community within the classroom, to have the teacher know the students so that we can grow from terrible moments as a group, not alone.

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2 thoughts on “Grief

  1. What a profound story. Thank you for sharing. It seems like not having your classmate remembered by the teacher made you all feel pretty sad and alone. It also seems like there was an opportunity here to show you all how important you were both to the teacher and to the class – by remembering your classmate in some way. We all want to think we’d be missed if we weren’t around, right?

  2. dl5pgh says:

    Your post brought back a memory for me – One I had remembered about 7 years ago but lost again. In high school, one of my classmates died, alcohol poisoning. I lived in a small town and went to a fairly small high school (179 in my class). I honestly don’t remember what the teachers said at the time. I do remember that it was talked about at school. But what I really remember is the graduation party that his parents threw for our class at the end of senior year. We all went and our class really pulled together by the end of the year. It was quite amazing.

    But it wasn’t until I lost my own child, that I realized how important that party really was. Not just for us as students, kids, and friends but for my classmates parents. It was a way to remember and honor their lost son. A way to celebrate his life and not forget him.

    I think it is safe to say that you learned what not to do in this situation.

    Honor and celebration are the way to go. Because the lost child has forever impacted your life and the lives of the class. Don’t let them go.

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