For us to truly make an impact on our youth we must be willing to address the tough issues and be able to meet them where they’re at...
I think it’s fair to say that at some point in our lives we will come face to face with dreadful seasons of grief. I have always said, there is no blueprint on how to deal with grief. But on this blog, I want us to turn our attention on our youth for just a moment. Don’t worry, Britney will follow up with another blog just for you regarding this topic. As a teacher, I have witnessed firsthand the heavy toll that grief has on our youth. It’s really hard to push a student to care about a STAAR test when they just lost their mother to cancer or father from covid-19. Being able to deal with, and even have open conversation regarding grief can be taxing. I don’t believe any of us wake up excited to talking about loss. But for us to truly make an impact in our youth we must be willing to address the tough issues and be able to meet them where they’re at during their season. So, what’s one way you can help your students or children? Don’t rush them, be patient. After losing my sister at an early age I became angry and felt confused. Why my sister? Did I do something bad? Am I going to die next? These thoughts were real for me as kid and they’re also reality for many of our youth. Thankfully for me, my parents and teachers didn’t challenge my thoughts but reassured me that they would be right there regardless of what I was thinking and feeling. Their proximity and patience allowed me to move through the stages of grief without getting stuck in my anger and confusion. (Stay tuned for Britney to discuss the stages of grief as well.) If you find yourself struggling to help your student or child during their season of grief, just know you aren’t alone. Don’t worry about making them happy because you will find yourself failing most of the time. I encourage you to scoot a bit closer to them while watching a movie or give them an extra opportunity to make up that assignment or test. Better yet, give them a hug to remind them that you are there. You will be surprised at how many of your youth are looking just for a hug. So, I guess the blueprint to deal with grief starts with you. Your willingness to be patience and to stand by them is worth way more than any tips listed in a 100-page manual. Everybody needs somebody and I pray that you will be that somebody for our youth. And as always, lead with love. RESOURCES: Children's Bereavement Center: https://childbereavement.org/resources/helpful-links.html
Grief and Loss Center: https://mygriefandloss.org/how-to-help-a-grieving-child
National Alliance for Children's Grief: https://nacg.org/find-support/
Books on grief for parents and youth: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Grieving Children by Phyllis R. Silverman and Madelyn Kelly The Invisible String by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief by Marge Eaton Heegaard I Miss You: a First Look at Death by Pat Thomas Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds