Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Speaking Up for Our Kids

Monday, August 26, 2013
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Our kids have been through hell and back.  Kids need to find that “safe place”-- the place where they can go and feel normal.  I know that my boys just want to “fit in” and not be known as the boy who lost their mother.

Unfortunately, even in this day and age, many of our schools do not have the resources to properly deal with grieving kids in the classroom.  Teachers have not taken a class on how to deal with their grieving students.  Most administrators haven’t either and quite frankly, many social workers are not learned about this either. 

Think about how many times a day you just daydream or “zone out” for a second, a minute, or even longer.  Think about how many times a day you need to go take a walk or even take a moment to feel sorry for yourself and cry.  Now think about your child sitting in school, not wanting to pay attention because they’re thinking about their mom or dad.  Think about your child perhaps being a bit fidgety and not able to concentrate.  What if your child’s teacher(s) don’t understand?  What if your child’s counselor says, “Come on. You really need to try and concentrate?”

I have experienced this at three educational levels:  Middle School, High School and College.  I don’t think that teachers and counselors (or the general public) are mean or insensitive, but they just haven’t been properly trained to deal with children’s grief in the classroom.  Specifically, MY child’s grief.  And what is more important than your child being treated fairly at school?  I decided to reach out to my kids educators, on all levels.  Yes, I spoke with counselors and advisors at my son’s college.  I did the same at the other schools as well.  If nothing else, I felt like this outreach put my kids on the radar screen and that they were being looked after.  Why not?  Don’t your kids deserve a little extra attention?  Don’t they deserve the benefit of the doubt in certain situations?  I certainly felt like my kids do and I am glad that I took the initiative.  As painful as it is to relive what happened, I know that this was in the best interest of my boys. 

Don’t you feel that most of the time you are only as happy as your least happy child?  I know I do!  That’s why I don’t feel bad asking for a little extra help for them.  This is a tough, competitive world and I felt that it was imperative to give my children every advantage regardless of the awful hand they have been dealt.  I don’t feel like this is being a “helicopter” parent at all – I feel like I am doing the best I can for my boys given the tragedy they have faced. 

In my case, it was best to take the bull by the horns.  I wanted to make the first move and not wait until my child was behind because he was not paying attention or not doing homework.  I wholeheartedly believe that it is imperative and incumbent on all of us to be our children’s advocate.  You may be surprised at the positive results and extra encouragement that your child receives.


Seems like every new class I explain and they act like they understand and then...5 years now and High school next year. A milestone for both of us .I will always be there to support and explain what he can't. Thanks for the uplifting words.

I feel so blessed to live in the community I do. My husband and I had six children together. When he died, two were out of the house and three were still in elementary, high school, and college. I was most concerned with our youngest, she was very close to her dad. He died in April and she had about six weeks left of 5th grade...then middle school! Her school was very understanding, the principle actually talked to her and told her to feel free to talk to him anytime she felt she needed to. On the middle school forms I made comments in more than one area about her father passing away very recently. I had a call from the sixth grade counselor (who followed that class through middle school)before school began in the fall, she asked if it was okay to talk to my daughter and then suggested meeting with her and three other 6th grade girls who lost someone close (dads and sibling)once or twice a month at lunch. So that is what they did. I know my daughter spoke with this counselor several times throughout middle school. It was such a relief to know that she was there for her and that she cared. My high schooler was 16. He is a very good kid and involved in sports. His coaches and a couple teachers took him under their wing, very supportive. My daughter in college ended up having her coaches guide her as well. She just graduated college in May and there is one coach that she looks up to as a 'surrogate' dad. It's been over three years and a new school year begun. My children are in a much better place now. My family is so blessed!

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