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Grief at the beginning of a new school year

Grief at the beginning of a new school year

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 9:28 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence

As a new school year begins, there is a lot of excitement in the air. Students feel a sense of anticipation as they think about the experiences that lie ahead during the next nine months. They share with each other accounts of things that happened during the past summer. There is always a special thrill associated with the beginning of a new football season. However, certain people will be grieving because they are reminded of deceased young people who will not be there to participate in school this year. This group of bereaved people includes parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and sweethearts of those who are deceased. Bereaved parents will wonder what this school year would have been like for their child. They are reminded daily of the reality that, when their child died, their entire future associated with that child was drastically altered, i.e., the opportunity to experience the joy of watching their child mature, pursue a career, have a family and find fulfillment and a purpose for life. Because of their untimely death, such things will never be. Their deceased child will always be absent from family gatherings. There will be no grandchildren or opportunities to pick up the telephone and hear that familiar voice say, “I love you, Mom, and we’ve got great news,” or “Hey, Sis, what about lunch this week?” Families of deceased young people are not the only ones who experience grief at the beginning of a new school year. There are also fellow-students, teachers, teammates, church groups, fraternal organizations, choirs, extra-curricular groups and the community at large — all of whom experience grief as they think about a particular young person and recall the various ways in which they were associated with that person. For example, during my senior year in high school, Shelby Hicks sat at the desk in front of me during American History class. I shall never forget how I felt as I stared at her empty chair the day following her death. At the beginning of each school year I think about her and wonder where life would have carried her had she lived. “The Bereaved Parent” by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff, “How to Survive the Loss of a Child” by Catherine M. Sanders and “Parental Loss of a Child” by Therese A. Rando are excellent resources for grieving parents. “When Grief Visits Schools” by John Dudley and “What Will We Do?” by Robert G. Stevenson are helpful resources for administrators, teachers and counselors. ——— Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is Published in The Messenger 7.24.08

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