Tuesday’s Teacher’s Corner: When a Student Passes Away
Although almost everything on this website, and in ministry, is filled with emotion, pain and solutions. Death is one nothing prepares you for. Even within the closest personal walk with God, nothing erases the sting of death. Not the part of knowing they are in heaven, but the part of you that still wants to love them. A piece of you that still desires to pour into them, love on them and just be blessed from knowing them is missing. However, one topic you rarely see in this area is about a student? What do you do when a student passes away?
As teachers, you pour your heart into your students. You truly care for their life and future. Time together, milestones celebrated, and possibly many hours of prayer you have invested into a beautiful soul. Unique in their own way. And although you may not be family, you truly look at that child like one of your own. How do you grieve that child that will no longer sit in their chair? Day after day that empty seat will be a reminder of the beautiful memories you shared and the fun stories you experienced together. How do you heal?
Bath it in prayer. Continue to grieve.
Give yourself permission to grieve. Grieve the loss of your days together. Grieve the beauty you celebrated and shared each day. Just grieve.
As we all know, there is not a quick fix for death. No matter what your relationship is with a person whom passes, you will grieve to some extent. But, is it wrong to grieve deeply for your student? No. In fact, it would be sad if you spent all those hours together and you didn’t. It proves your love for your students. It validates your sincerity. It shows the hours you devoted into that beautiful child. It is okay to grieve. In your situation, you may have to maintain a professional look about yourself, but do not let that stop you from grieving. God weeps with you. HE cares and loves you. He placed you in this students life for a reason. You may not know the depth in which the student thought of you, but it does not change the fact that you were apart of their everyday. Your life mattered to them. And remember, HE can use you in the healing process as well.
So, what do we do in the passing of a student. Grieve. Then heal. Apart of that process somewhere you may ask yourself, what can I do? How can I honor this student? What is my next step toward the family? The best thing to do for someone that has lost a child is to pray and just be there. Let them know you care. If you are close to them or have a bit of relationship with them; let them see you are willing to mourn with them. If you are not close to the family, let them know their child mattered in your life. Perhaps send food. It can be delivery or as detailed as grocery shopping.
Another beautiful way to celebrate the life of a child, or one of your students, is to frame a piece of his/her work for the family. As a teacher you may have some special poem or drawing your student has done. Maybe even an extra picture or two if you take them in your class. What about framing them and sending them over with some dinner? The ideas for being are limitless and endless. Keep in your thoughts as well that your other students may mourn for their classmate as well. There are ways to honor your student and help your class heal as well. One is by a class sending notes to the family. Maybe a note or picture of their favorite thing about your missing student or a memory to share. Another may be, growing a shrub or plant in your classroom and eventually into the school or church yard in honor of your student. Lastly to help get thoughts rolling, do something that would uniquely honor the student. This could be a scholarship, a sport game, a special day (their birthday) of giving, and etc. All of these things will enhance the meaning of loving each other, caring for our classmates, honor your student that has passed and help your other students (and yourself) heal. It can be a difficult journey, made as beautiful as possible under the circumstances.
I will come back to this subject in being a blessing to a grieving family. However, I want to state, grieve. Heal. You have every right to give that love and devotion to another student, guiltless. And, thank you for loving that student like your own child! Happy Teaching!
P.S. Until next time, do not forget to check out this post: 5 Things to Remember When You are Grieved Within
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