When I was in college learning how to be a teacher there wasn't anything in the curriculum on how to handle the death of a student. This is my twentieth year and Serge is the sixth student I've lost. Billy was very early in my career and I barely knew him. I think I was too overwhelmed with the entirety of the job to even process it. A couple years later it was Jack and Will who were brothers.who died in a plane crash. I was honored to be able to speak for Jack at the funeral and I'm honored that on the podium that my students use when delivering speeches there is a note on the underside of it that reads, "Jack was here." Next was Jared who drowned. He is in the top five of goofy and funny students I ever had. Anna was the last one to go before Serge. She was murdered outside McDonald's in a random attack by an insane person. Anna was a Homecoming princess and so full of life that people wanted to be her. They wanted to be as free as she was. I was able to stand up for her at her service as well. And this morning I woke up to news of Serge. It's been 12 hours since I heard and I haven't been able to catch my breath yet.
Come Monday I will stand in front of my two classes of upperclassmen and talk about Serge. I will be forthcoming about my feelings and I will try to model best how to deal with grief. I'm sure I will talk about Billy, Will, Jack, Jared, and Anna and how there is still something missing from me because they are gone. I will talk about how it is alright to be mad or sad or oddly removed from it. I will tell my students that there is absolutely no way to predict how people will react to the death of a classmate and to be accepting of everyone's reaction. Death opens up a huge vat of emotions in these kids. Someone who has recently lost a family member may not even know Serge but be crushed by his death. His close friends may be numb. There is just no predicting how people will react. I will listen to my kids talk about Serge and about death and about how criminally unfair it is that he was four months away from graduation and is now dead. I will cry with my students. I will write with my students. I will be there during class when they want to talk about it. I will also be there during lunch and after school when they just need to be around me and have me listen to them work through their pain.
This is not taught in college but it understood by every teacher who has lost a student. I will be there for my kids this week and next and the week after. I will try to help them carry on and they will help me as well. Healing from Serge's loss will take time but our community at school will lean on each other and it will get better. We will rally.
No story today. Too sad.