how do we talk about grief (a bit of a book review- a monster calls by patrick ness)

It twists us with it’s sharpened claws,

Wringing out the tiny drops

Of feeling left for loves of lives.

But grief is part of daily life

And talking is a cooling balm.

It’s just so hard to find the words

That make that wound feel healed at all.

I got a work email the other day to say that one of the students I work with has had some terrible news. It has long been known that his mum is ill and his behaviour has been problematic to say the least. However, the email said that he would be off school for a little while because she had been given days to live.

My hear sank as I read the words. Selfishly, I wondered how on earth I would ever be able to talk to the poor kid. I could only imagine how awkward it would be to utter the words ‘are you OK?’

Those words always feel so empty when you know that somebody is going through something so unimaginably painful. And so yes, my heart sank.

But interestingly, just one day later I was asked to write and deliver a lesson on bullying using the Patrick Ness book, A Monster Calls. I only had to read one chapter, but I got into it and found that I couldn’t stop.

The book is about a kid called Conor whose mum is dying of cancer. A monster comes to visit him to give him advice and lessons in life that will help him through what is going to come.

I’ve only read one Patrick Ness book before this and I hated it. But this, just blew me away. It was beautiful and sensitive and insightful and everything that I would look for in an adult read. It was perfection.

I don’t know if it will help me speak to this student that I know, but it felt serendipitous that the book fell into my hands at just the right moment. It just goes to show that we really are given all the tools we need, we just need to be open to receiving them.

I loved this book so much that I’m excited, rather than nervous about delivering this lesson. I hope that my enthusiasm for the book can inspire the kids to have a go at the whole book too. And perhaps I can encourage a couple of you to read it too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

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