Sunday, September 30, 2012


I've been thinking about loss a lot lately.  As I'm getting to know my students this year, I'm coming to terms with how much loss they've gone through.  Many of my kids this year come from the WONDERFUL children's home here in town.  Several of them have had their parents killed or experienced the loss of their parents in late elementary/ early middle school years. These kids know all sorts of loss- whether it was the loss of their parents' income as the mills closed here, or the loss of their family as they were removed and placed in the children's home.

The thought that I keep returning to is this: Everybody copes with loss differently, even if it is the same loss.  Who am I to make a harsh judgment because someone snaps at me one day or deem a kid a 'problem student,' when it may just be that they're working through their loss?  What can you really do to help someone experiencing these things?  I feel like I have a better handle on it outside of school, but what do you do for the kid whose dad committed suicide last fall, or whose dad left mom and him and his siblings behind for another man that they've all known forever?  We don't have gobs of time to listen? How do we show compassion and give them the time and things that they need to heal?  How can we help them continue with daily life and still continue to grieve?

I don't have the answers to these questions; I don't know if I really ever will.  I know that during some of my greatest losses, I've felt like I was lost on a deserted island with no ties to reality.  I didn't know how to explain what was happening in my world to anyone, and even the people closest to me that held me and were consistently there for me couldn't swim out to that island.  I know that other people went through similar experiences, but none of their "Oh, I know exactly what you're feeling" comments helped.  Actually, in some circumstances they made me bristle, even though I know they were spoken with the best of intentions.  I don't know that we ever truly know exactly what someone is going through, but if anyone has any answers (besides more psych classes, which I love, but don't have time for), I'd love to know what you think, or what you do when your students or your dear ones are experiencing a loss.

PS- I think if I can figure this out, at least 2 of my handful of most difficult students will be much easier to manage in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. I think we're all get to adulthood deeply wounded. I don't have a solution, all I know to do is continue to love them and hope that people are able to trust that love enough to begin healing.

    Being sensitive to their loss makes you a better teacher, irrespective of your ability to impart knowledge.