dealing with death

It comes to all of us,

Even the hardiest succumb to those

Long, clawed fingers, scratching at our flesh.

But some go young

And that is tough

To bear, to process, to explain,

And so we all sit silently

Hoping it will go away.

We had a really difficult day in our school today as a child lost his battle with a life limiting illness yesterday. He was fifteen and had fought hard for all of his life. That is hard to process for even the most worldly wise of teachers.

I taught some of the students in his year directly after they were told and it was such a strange experience. How do you speak to these children when even you don’t really understand how something this awful can happen?

I then had to explain what had happened to my twelve year old tutees and when they were told there was just a stunned silence. They seemed to bounce back to their normal selves but I wonder what is running through their heads.

For many of them, they are too young to have been touched by death and grief and loss, so I wonder if they are even able to process it. The first time you realise that someone your age can actually die. Realising that you aren’t immortal is scary.

I hope that the family are going to get through this and that his friends are banding together to support each other. Even those of us that didn’t know this child personally, are feeling that pain and fear.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

13 thoughts on “dealing with death

  1. Margot Kinberg

    It is so, so awful when a child dies, isn’t it, Rachel? Everyone at school just suffers so much, and that’s nothing to what the family goes through! I remember at the first school where I taught (it was a small school, so everyone knew everyone), we had a suicide. I wasn’t the girl’s teacher, but I knew who she was. It really tore at the whole fabric of our school community. I wish all of you well coping with this.

    1. patientandkindlove

      That must be really difficult because everyone would question if they could have done something differently. This child knew that his lifetime was limited and that meant that he really grasped every opportunity and used his years wisely and fully.

  2. clcouch123

    I’m sorry to hear about the death of this young person. And now the people all around, especially the young ones, need attention. I’m glad you explained what happened to the other students, and it will be hard for them (for everyone) to imagine the permanent absence of this youth.

    1. patientandkindlove

      I’m not entirely sure that my twelve year olds can grasp it properly yet. They know what death is but I don’t think they’re at the stage where they recognise it will affect them at some time.

  3. Vic Crain

    It is awful, but as usual, I’ll contribute a probably unexpected response.

    Death is awful in part because medicine and parents have worked together to shield children from this experience. If you go back just 80 years when smallpox and polio roamed the land, childhood death was fairly common and children knew someone who had passed. Multi-generational households were more common and children may have witnessed the passing of an older relative. The wars also made death very real. By the time you were five or six, you had been to a cemetery or funeral or had been present when a relative ceased living.

    The last two to three generations have no experience with that. The great killers of children in the recent period have been suicide and automobiles. However, that may be changing. Covid and future viruses can pick off the weak at any age.

    Economics teaches that the more of something that one has, the less value it has to that person. If you pretend time is infinite, then it is free to waste. If you recognize the very real limitations, then you are empowered to use it wisely.

    We want children to enjoy childhood, but we also want them to learn and achieve. Doing both requires a balance. There’s a simple, teachable lesson here: To everything there’s a season.

  4. Yetismith

    A girl I had been friendly with in boarding school died of a brain tumor during the summer holiday. Her sister wrote and told me. The girl and I had had some stupid fight as children sometimes do. I don’t think the sister meant to blame me for what happened, but that was how I took it and I was sickened. I was afraid to tell my parents so I carried the guilt for a long time. I can still remember the feeling in my stomach. It’s important for kids to know they can talk without the threat of punishment or censure. So sad for your class but I think we need to be more accepting of death as a society. When I was a kid it was always something dark that you could not talk about. Best wishes.

    1. patientandkindlove

      That’s so sad and I totally agree that we need to be able to talk more freely about it. I don’t understand why we seem to tiptoe around the topic when it happens to all of us? Much Love xx

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