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Pupil bereavement

(30 Posts)
MrsMandS Sat 29-Oct-16 11:18:28

I've been on MN for years, but haven't been on the staff room threads before. Maybe occassionally if one of the threads is active. I name changed fairly recently too.

I don't want to give too much away, but one of my pupils has died sad. I knew her well and saw her everyday that I was in school.

I feel sorry for family and her friends, for her year group... but most of all for her. She was so young and I just can't believe she's gone.

I just can't stop thinking about her. It is on my mind constantly and every time my DH or kids come to hug me I feel the sadness well up inside me and the tears start to spill. I can't sleep. I just keep crying and crying.

When I got the news I actually cried out. It was horrific. Yet others in a similar situation were able to hold it together and don't seem to be nearly as affected as I am.

I think what's making it more difficult is that I'm not working at my school at the moment.

Other teachers seem to be able to distance themselves, be professional and soldier on. I'm not particularly young and I've experienced grief in many forms before. I don't usually show emotion, but this has deeply affected me.

I am just completely devastated.

When I've told a couple of my friends what's happened, they just sigh and then start chatting about what they are having for dinner.

Or people will ask if I heard about 'that girl' as if it's someone from the other side of the world that they read about in the news.

I suppose in this profession, a bit like doctors and nurses, you're not supposed to have relationships/ feelings for your patients/pupils.

I posted this here because I am hoping that some of you will understand.

happystory Sat 29-Oct-16 11:23:42

Oh this is awful. I can understand how you feel, it's a terrible shock and a great tragedy for one so young. Was this recently? Even though you aren't working at the school, could you go in and speak to colleagues? I'm sure some are feeling the same as you? Maybe they will be holding an assembly or other type of gathering to remember her?

User1029384746 Sat 29-Oct-16 11:24:01

I didn't want to read and run OP.

I'm sorry for your loss flowers

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Oct-16 11:42:09

How awful it is when a young person dies. flowers

I think grief when a student dies can hit teachers differently because we have different relationships with the students. There are some that I teach who I have a real soft spot for, and some who are just members of my class. The circumstances can make a difference to how you feel too, if the death was particularly senseless, or if the child was close in age to your own children.

Take care of yourself.

MrsMandS Sat 29-Oct-16 11:44:52

Thank you for your quick replies. It was very recent.

They held an assembly for the pupils the morning after she died to break the news to them. It was very sudden. I don't know if there'll be a proper assembly for her.

There will obviously be a funeral, which I'll go to. Because of the circumstances of her death it might be delayed. Strangely I really want to go. Normally I avoid them unless I absolutely have to go and even then I switch off emotionally.

MrsMandS Sat 29-Oct-16 11:48:28

Yes noblegiraffe I agree completely. In all honesty there are people in my class that I don't know at all and barely remember their names unless I check the seating plan, but this girl was a real character and very loving. She was well known in school and the local area.

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sat 29-Oct-16 11:49:02

I'm not a teacher (stumbled across this thread in active convos) but it occurred to me that you are in a profession in which you are preparing our young ones for their future - for one of them to have that future taken away from them must hit very hard.

Please don't feel guilty for your grief flowers

Wonderflonium Sat 29-Oct-16 11:50:26

I totally understand. An ex pupil of mine died suddenly a few years back and I could not get her out of my mind for a very long time. It's coming up to the anniversary now and that always makes me wobbly.

DearMrDilkington Sat 29-Oct-16 11:50:40

Oh I'm so sorrysad. Absolutely awful news. Poor girl and her poor familysad.

We're all here if you want to talk about itflowers.

Roseformeplease Sat 29-Oct-16 11:56:34

I have lost pupils before. It is devastating. There is always a hole in the class when you think about it. Seemingly ordinary lessons become sad and bleak when you see the seat, or even the books.

The only way I got through was because I was part of the school and the community and we mourned together. Being away from the school must make it hard because you can't grieve as you would normally, by noticing an absence and sharing. You grieve alone.

It is very, very tough. It brings back family losses too. Plus, as a parent, you mourn for the parents' loss too.

Be good to yourself. Perhaps try to meet others who knew this child and seek mutual support. We lost 2 at once in a car crash a few years ago. It was devastating for everyone, especially siblings in the school.

I am thinking of them now as that is how grief works.

Blueemeraldagain Sat 29-Oct-16 11:56:58

There's no right or wrong way to grieve. I work in SEN education and used to work in an area of SEN where students passing away early was tragically common. Each death was terrible and the whole school grieved but it's only natural that different staff members were affected differently each time due to the inevitable personal bonds we make with students.

LockedOutOfMN Sat 29-Oct-16 19:41:13

MrsMandS I'm so so sorry for your loss. May your student rest in peace and my thoughts are with her family and her friends such as you and her fellow students.

This happened at my school and I felt the same way as you do. It was almost a year ago and I still see the girl's face every day in my head and think of her, not just when I am in school or doing something associated with her e.g. teaching her peers. Our school did provide some grief counselling (more to show teachers how to help students with their grief rather than to deal with our own) but personally I feel I was in shock then and unable to benefit fully from that. Recently I had a - physical - medical check and the doctor, who I'd never met before, immediately sensed something was wrong and asked me questions about mental health which led within a couple of minutes to me crying uncontrollably for about 20 minutes. I'm going to go and see a counsellor about it.

I know exactly what you mean about mentioning it or thinking about it and the rest of the world going on exactly as before, e.g. people saying "That's sad," then turning back to their phones and lives. I don't blame them; they don't know and can't be expected to know how I feel, but to me the cruelty and brevity of life just slaps me in the face at those moments. And I also feel really guilty.

I have at least two colleagues who I sense feel the same way, or similar, and we do talk occasionally, but at work there's always so much to be done and we feel as if we're bringing each other down so we don't talk very often. Perhaps talking more with them wouldn't be helpful anyway.

Anyway, this is rambling and probably just self-centred sounding. I am deeply sorry for your loss and am thinking of you.

HouseAnxiety Sat 29-Oct-16 19:44:41

This happened to me also. I was surprised at how much it affected me and I still think about him now. Try writing down some lovely memories of the child, I later on shared them with the parents who were very grateful. It was cathartic.

It does get easier x

Wolfiefan Sat 29-Oct-16 19:47:09

Years ago a teen boy I taught died quickly from an infection. It was so shocking and he was such a lovely character. I have never forgotten him. It seemed so totally wrong. I did go to the funeral and was very upset. I will never forget seeing his family and friends grieving.

minmooch Sat 29-Oct-16 19:56:58

My son died aged 18. I hope some of his teachers cried for him. He loved school. It was too young to die. Children shouldn't die. And teachers are surely allowed to have normal feelings for their students?

Please please got to the funeral. It will mean an awful lot to the parents.

EvilTwins Sat 29-Oct-16 20:01:57

I've experienced this twice in my career. The first time was a boy I didn't know very well but it was still awful. The second was a boy I was very fond of and it was devastating. I went to his funeral. Watching six other boys carry the coffin was - well I can't actually think of words - very hard to watch. I'm glad I went though. I was on mat leave at the time but even so I wasn't the only teacher there.

Groovee Sat 29-Oct-16 20:10:25

I work in nursery and have had the shock of hearing about 2 children I worked with passing away through accidents. Even now 16 years on from my first experience, I still get a pang of "he was too young". I think you just take each day at a time and see if there is anyone you can talk to x

SaltMarshPirate Sat 29-Oct-16 20:11:32

I am so sorry to hear this. I can empathise with how you feel. It happened to me, very early on in my teaching career, to a sixth form pupil. It devastated the whole school. I have never forgotten it.
It is a testament to how much you put into your vocation that you feel like this.
My thoughts are with you.

ReallyTired Sat 29-Oct-16 20:13:48

Schools are like an extended family and it does hit that community. A child dying goes against the natural order of what we expect. I knew a young girl who died and it was a huge shock for everyone as her death was so unexpected.

My son is the same age as when the young lady died. It was an horrendous tradgy. I can't imagine the grief her parents must suffer. She would be a young adult if she was alive today.

chattygranny Sat 29-Oct-16 20:24:48

I'm not a teacher and came across this in active posts too. I always feel saddest about the young person who has not had their life too. I just wanted to agree with PP that you expect to prepare for life not see death in the 21st century. But you're just reacting in a human way. My DD is a paediatric nurse in a cancer ward and sees a fair bit of tragedy. Trust me, medical professionals cry too. Not in front of the bereaved but together and alone. You're just being human. Bless you.

Queenbean Sat 29-Oct-16 20:29:12

I'm so sorry to hear this OP, it must be a terrible shock

I'm sure it's an awful coincidence but there is a similar thread in Bereavement at the moment from a parent, may be worth checking just to make sure it's not the same child

Spottyladybird Sat 29-Oct-16 20:34:32

I had an ex pupil who was then 21 commit suicide last year. It hit me so hard, even though it'd been years since I taught him.

I think you need to recognise your feelings and give yourself space to grieve for both the child you knew and their future.

On the other side when I was 10 a friend of mine died suddenly, it was the first time I'd seen adults grieving and also felt the school community pull together. 20 odd years on it still connects us all.

Ilikesweetpeas Sat 29-Oct-16 20:34:48

As a fellow teacher I've experienced this too. My sympathies to you OP, it's a very very hard thing to deal with. If you are able to, writing to the child's parents with your memories of them may be something which you can do which may perhaps help both you and them. A few years after a child I taught died his mum told me that she often reread my letter to her. flowers for you

Sunnydawn Sat 29-Oct-16 20:36:13

My late Dad was a teacher, and lost two pupils during his career. The first was an RTA, and I remember hism getting the phone call at home in the evening. The second was a little girl who died of meningitis.

He really mourned them, and he was a very strong, professional Head Teacher. He spoke at the funeral of the little girl, and I think that she stayed with him until he passed away himself a few years later.

Take care of

hmcAsWas Sat 29-Oct-16 20:38:55

You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel. It must have been a terrible shock flowers

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