"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.
*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***
http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Last year my youngest daughter had a hard time in school. Her first year following her father's death was difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as the year that was to follow. That second year she "hit a wall" in many ways, and the biggest obstacle was her grief. What made it so hard on my daughter was her teacher's inability to understand my daughter's grief, and to recognize it for what it was.
I feel strongly that teachers need to be better educated about grief in children; how to recognize it, and how to help the child deal with those feelings.
Here is a great PDF for teachers about that very thing.
It's from the New York Life Foundation website, and that site is packed with lots of resources for teachers and parents.
Brookes Publishing has a link on that site to a book called "The Grieving Student - A Teacher's Guide." I am considering buying a copy (or two) for the teachers at my daughter's school.
It's not difficult for teacher's to learn more about grief in children, and the signs and symptoms exhibited by grieving children. I know that most of our teachers put in a great deal of time and effort to be equipped to help our kids. I am not trying to add to their pile of work.
But a little time to become educated about grief in children, its signs and symptoms, and how to assist a child through this most difficult of times is time well spent. Children need a strong support system, and the more caring adults they have to turn to - the better. :)
Thursday, September 26, 2013
My youngest daughter had a rough time last year in school. It was a combination of several things, but the underlying reason was that she was still dealing with grief ... even though it was hard to tell that from how she looked or acted.
Her teacher said she always seemed happy enough to be at school, so she had a hard time accepting the fact that my daughter was actually suffering from some depression during the year. The teacher's request - have her tested for ADHD. Why do so many teachers just naturally go THERE?!?! Sure, my daughter was having trouble focusing at times in school, but her physician and two therapists both confirmed that this was NOT a child who was ADHD. It was grief. But the school and the school's Special Ed "specialist" didn't really buy into that. So last year was a little discouraging and stressful for both of us.
This year? Things seem to be on a totally different track. She's in 5th grade, with a more experienced teacher, who is disciplined yet makes it fun to learn. The change in my daughter has been great! I am sure her teacher is not the ONLY reason for the change; I know that my daughter has worked through much of her grief issues, and seeing a therapist a couple times a month has helped a great deal. But it's been great to see her begin to blossom again, and be encouraged about school again - instead of being beaten down each day, and come home with her shoulders slumped and a discouraged look on her face.
I guess my point in writing this post is this: kids you are grieving have different needs in the classroom, and teachers need to be able to understand the grieving process in kids and facilitate their learning during this time. It's not uncommon for kids who are grieving to be distracted; anyone who has grieved can tell you that it's hard work! It takes a tremendous amount of emotional and mental energy to cope with grieving the loss of a loved one AND to function as a normal person on a day to day basis. Add into that the stress of a classroom filled with kids and teachers who don't "get" what you're going through - and no wonder grieving kids seem "spacey" and "out of it" at times.
And the worst part was being told that, "It's been a year. She should be over it by now."
Grief is not experienced on a timetable. There is no fixed time limit for grief - we all grieve differently, and at our own pace.
If you are the parent of a grieving child, you may be called upon to be their advocate when it comes to the school system. Many schools are very helpful (and most try to be helpful) but you may need to educate a few teachers and administrators (and yes, even the occasional special education specialist) about how a child grieves, what is normal, etc.
Stand up for your child, and make sure that they aren't being unfairly labeled. Make sure that their needs are being met in the classroom. Don't be afraid to speak up!
And let me assure you - it does get better!
Oh, and just a side note: neither last year's teacher nor the Special Ed "specialist" are employed at my daughter's school this year. Both have moved on to other schools. I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS! But I know God did ... I have prayed that anyone who did not have my child's best interests in mind would be removed from her life. So ... prayer works, and now my daughter doesn't have to deal with either one of them this year. :)
(9/30/2013 - this post has been shared with :