As a teacher I have many times had the uncomfortable role of communicating with students about very difficult topics where death is involved. Sometimes it may be a personal disaster within the family for a certain student, divorced parents or the loss of a pet or something like that. When either students, parents or teachers have died or other overwhelming things have occured there is always a plan in school for what to do. When I was a teenager I remember two occasions when friends of mine died. They were students in school. One of them died in a tragic accident and the other one committed suicide. My experience of both those occasions was that every teacher around us were eager to be there for us making the day as a special, but very sad, day. I remember we all were disturbed by that and had hoped for everything being just as usual, normal, like yesterday so to speak. But bringing someone back who has died is impossible and the very death seems to bring a mindfulness that is extraordinary strong, because I think I can recall almost every single notification of death in my near relationships in situations where I have been.
My first year of teaching was difficult in many ways, as expected if you are new in a profession. But one of the reasons for me in particular was the extraordinary coincidence of three completely different deaths of student’s parents. A child losing his or her parent is extremely vulnerable and teaching is difficult when children needs that little extra concern. There is no way one can ”get used to” or ”learn” how to deal with death within close relations. Whenever it happens, it is always completely shocking. Friends and relatives all have different ways to mourn and in school we meet all those ways, I guess… being angry, quiet, absentminded or extremely sad is of course among those, but some people tend to be more serious or strong in situations of disaster or despair.
I was teaching the morning after MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea. Teachers in my school had been notified that there might be students whose parents were on a cruise with MS Estonia. I remember the very morning after, when I was entering my classroom, very worried for what would happen in there. I had planned to honour those who died with minute of silence, but before I had a chance to suggest that, one of my students did. I was grateful to her for taking this brave standpoint in a group of teenagers and admired her still for her strength in a difficult situation. In memory of friends we miss! ❤