Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Very Sad Day

Yesterday one of the students that I've had for the past three years passed away on her way to the hospital. Little is known at this point, but the cause of death appears to be kidney failure. This was something she had been struggling with for the past couple of months, but very few people knew about it.

There is very little precedent for how to handle the death of a graduating senior two weeks before graduation. This student was very well known and her death is hitting a lot of students and teachers very hard, including myself. How do you comfort your students when you're hurting too? How do you explain how something so tragic could happen to someone who was so loved and had such a bright future?

It's hard to even know how to feel about this. It's not an elderly family member or some distant relative, this is someone who was barely 18 years old that I have seen everyday for the past 3 years. While we all have different ways of grieving, grieving as a part of a large group can be extremely difficult. I'm trying to pull myself together but everywhere I look there is a sad face of a student who has lost their friend and classmate. I see them cry and give them a hug and lose it all over again.

A teacher could go their whole career and never face this kind of tragedy, and yet here we are trying to figure out who can go to the funeral and who needs to be in the building. How do we honor this student who should be walking across the stage in her cap and gown next week? How do we tell a student they will never see their friend again? How do we give a diploma to a grieving mother? How do we grieve the death of one so young? Of course these questions don't have answers and time will help us heal, but it is a very sad day and it will be a very sad end to this otherwise successful school year.