I’ve read the posts and comments of some of my friends, who are also colleagues, about the worse news that a teacher can receive. Ironically the night before I was having a discussion with my dear friend of why I’m choosing not watch the show Thirteen Reasons on Netflix. I told her that I didn’t’ need to watch what is absolutely one of the toughest aspects my job—dealing with students' emotional pain and mental illnesses. I told her that I would watch it eventually but I didn’t need to add that storyline to my down time—how little did I know what those words would mean to me in less than 12 hours later.
When a teacher sees their school name in their phone’s display on a weekend morning, they know that it’s not going to be good news. I took a breath before answering the phone and found myself sobbing on my floor from the devastating news that one of my students, who had been in my classroom for his whole high school life had died as a result of mental illness which resulted in him take his life the day before. I’ve spent the week asking why, what else could be done, but in the end there are really no answers. He was an amazing kid, always a smile, a copious amount sugar laden food and a helping hand to anyone who asked. I would gladly sit through a thousands of meetings where 40 slides of information were read out loud in a monotone voice so as not to go through this week.
They never prepare you in teacher’s college to fully understand the impact of losing a student—especially this way. How can they because if they did, I think everyone would quit. My colleagues and I have had kids sobbing in our arms asking why and did they miss something. It’s been hard trying to explain to them over and over, that it’s not their fault and sadly we couldn’t have prevented it when those questions creep in our own minds.
At the funeral, I was amazed and glad that his parents didn’t choose to hide the tragedy of his death—and called it what it was—he took his life. The only hope is that the over 500 kids and adults in attendances heed the words spoken so that anyone else suffering will reach out rather than away for help.
There will be more to deal with the next little while, a memory tree will be planted, I will be helping some of his school friends to raise money in his honour for a street children charity and his cap and gown will be placed on the seat he should have been sitting on at his graduation ceremony.
Tonight I stared at the most amazing starry night and tried yet again to find peace and wondered how the parents can be coping this Easter weekend. Yup, this has been a horrific week but as I kept telling my students. The sun will rise tomorrow, children will be born, someone will learn something new, someone will laugh and the world will go on—and so will all of we; it’s just going to hurt for next little bit but it will get better. I think I’ll go look at the stars again.