Two things happened recently that prompted me to write this post — the first was the arrival of “NEA Today”with an article titled Lessons on Loss, and the second was that the father of one of my student’s died.
In thinking about it, it seems to me that there is much more written in the vein of the NEA Today article (which focuses on a school coping with the loss of one of their students) than with how best a teacher can help a student dealing with the loss of a close family member or friend. The first instance is obviously tragic and traumatic, and needs to be discussed. But since the second instance happens far more frequently, I thought I’d share a couple of resources that might be useful.
The first is a short article titled “How to: Help Your Students Deal with Grief and Loss.” I think it offers some helpful tips.
The second is a book titled “Remembering With Love.” It’s a book I give to my mainstream high school students, and provides short, page-long vignettes. It’s designed as a guide throughout the first year of loss (first month, first holiday, etc.). In fact, over the past seventeen years, I’ve probably given over fifty copies away to students, colleagues and friends who have suffered a loss.
There’s a story behind this…
My first wife died seventeen years ago. Linda’s profession was being a…bereavement counselor. It was a devastating time for me and, in fact, I look at my entire life through the lens of “pre-Linda’s death” and “post-Linda’s death.” Because of her work, there were obviously a lot of bereavement resources around our house. I went through it all, and nothing seemed to really fit. One day, I was just browsing through a bookstore and found “Remembering With Love.” I found it very helpful, and I believe that everybody — students and adults alike — whom I’ve since given a copy has felt the same way.
Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section on how you have helped students experiencing grief, or of other resources you’ve found useful.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is be there to listen to the catharsis of the student sharing their memories and fears.
Thanks for the beautiful post and the wonderful resource.
I am helping one of my 3rd grade girls who witnessed her father kill her mother and then himself a month ago. This is one of the biggest challenges in my career. Thank you for the beautiful post and the book.
I have also give the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Kushner.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Larry. I really enjoyed the piece in the Chronicle this week about grieving on Facebook. Having lost far too many former students and colleagues in the past few years, I find Facebook to be a powerful way to unite far-flung people around their grief and love for the lost.
Here is a link:
This post is awesome and empowers students who are grieving and allows them to move beyond the grief to do something positive for others.