Have you ever lost a student?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ArizonaTchr72, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. ArizonaTchr72

    ArizonaTchr72 Companion

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    Sep 18, 2009

    There is a little boy at our school who is facing cancer. We are not sure yet what the prognosis is, but it does not sound good. His older brother was my student last year and comes to me every morning in tears. All of this has just happened since last weekend! I am terribly upset and yet this is not even my student. I am not sure if I could handle losing one of my own students. I would like to communicate my well wishes to his family, but I am not sure what to even say. I went into a card store and ended up leaving with nothing. This is not really a get-well-card or a sympathy card situation. Maybe something simple like a note saying I am thinking of you? I did have a close relationship with both parents as they always volunteered for field trips and donated things to our classroom. What can I say to his brother? I have never been in a situation like this and I just wish I could make this little boy well.
     
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  3. bridgetbordeaux

    bridgetbordeaux Companion

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I have never lost a student since I am still in school, but I would send a card that says I am thinking of you. Sometimes people don't know what to do, so they do nothing
    All you can say to the brother is, I am sorry and I am thinking of you and your family at this difficult time
    Sorry you are going through this
     
  4. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I have lost students before. When I worked in a Teen Parent program, I lost 3 babies. That is hard. We used the school resouce team to assist with grief.

    I know you will ask, no they did not pass at school.
    One was a SIDS death
    One choked on a pumpkin seed
    One died in a car wreak
     
  5. ArizonaTchr72

    ArizonaTchr72 Companion

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    Sep 18, 2009

    How horrible, Blue! I am sorry.
     
  6. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Sep 18, 2009

    We lost a student to cancer in our school once. She was not in my class that year. I had taught her the previous year (and I'd had all four of her brothers, too). I think about her and her family almost daily still, and it's been several years now.

    There are cards out there that simply say, "I'm thinking of you."
    In all honesty, however, what I'd probably do is call the family (and you'll have to leave a msg, since they are probably at the hospital) and offer help of a specific kind. I'd say, "Can I drive your other son to and from school for you?" or "Can I watch your other son?" or even "Can I walk your dog, cut your grass, pick up your mail & newspapers?" Whatever you think you can manage within your schedule that they may need help with.

    For this family, a bunch of us went to their house and did a really thorough cleaning and did ALL of the laundry. We did this just as we knew the child was almost gone, so that when the family had guests over after the service, the house would sparkle, and it was one thing that no one had to think about. The mom was so thankful, she couldn't even express it. Of course, it was a bunch of parents that organized it, and some of the teachers just tagged along....
    Kim
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I'm so very sorry!!

    I'm sad to say that I've been to far too many student funerals. Some we lost to accidents-- a number of car, one train and one plane. Some we've lost to illness, from an assortment of cancers to Cystic Fibrosis.

    Each tears your heart out a little more.

    Again, my sincere sympathies.
     
  8. ArizonaTchr72

    ArizonaTchr72 Companion

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    Sep 18, 2009

    Thank you for all of your comments. I will definitely contact this family and offer to help in any way I can. I guess I was afraid of imposing, but your suggestions made me realize that they would probably welcome the contact.
     
  9. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Sep 18, 2009

    We are dealing with an 8th grader who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I teach all of the 8th graders History. I talked with mom today and she said they will start talking to the neurosurgeon and many other doctors next week. They are in the beginning stages of dealing with this.


    I will keep your student and their family in my prayers
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I have not lost a student but I do have a student in my class with Muscular Dystrophy. He is 8 years old and not expected to live until his teenage years. His parents have finally admitted that he has MD (we knew last year b/c his old school told us), but they will not allow us to provide him with physical therapy... I am thinking he his condition may be progressing quicker than expected as his family was sponsored by a charity for terminally ill children to visit relatives in France this summer.
     
  11. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

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    Sep 18, 2009

    This reminds me of being in highschool. From my freshmen to senior year, between students, teachers, coaches..and people who had just graduated we had like 12 deaths. It was horrible. Everyone in the area thought we were plagued. Car wrecks, freak accidents, drug/suicide mess, health related things.

    I would send two cards. Even if blank on the inside, to his family and one for your former student. It will probably make your former student, not feel better, but know he can come to you anytime. He'll need a person aside from his parents to lean on.
     
  12. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I lost a student in a car accident several years ago and the younger siblings of 3 more. It was difficult for everyone and some of the survivors and older siblings turned to drug use as a result. The grief counselors were not available long enough for a school of that size and some of the teachers even had issues coping.
     
  13. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Sep 18, 2009

    I lost a former student in August. Absolutely nothing was said about how it happened, which leads me to believe that what I have heard is true - that it was suicide. He was a favorite of mine, and we had touched base on Facebook a few times. He was a talented writer, a gorgeous young man with a world of possibilities ahead of him. The memorial was wrenching. I still get weepy thinking about him.
     
  14. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Sep 18, 2009

    This seems to be a sensitive subject for me lately - I can't take one more. I have been at the funerals of 5 children in the last couple of years, and today when a parent at the school called me upset and left a message for me to call her immediately I sat on the floor and cried. It turned out not be be anything but made me realize how close to the edge I am lately between drama at work, economic issues, deaths, etc. Children shouldn't die. Period.

    The support of the school family can be vital for this family. Once more is known so you know how to help, providing meals, doing after school care for other children so parents can be at the hospital, taking turns in the hospital, doing laundry, stocking the house with food, rides for the other kids taking them to school, sports events, etc., providing healthy snacks for the hospital, gift cards to fast food places - all these and many more ideas will probably be appreciated and make the familiy's life easier. Counseling at school for the sibling and staff development so teachers and staff know what to say and do.

    Good luck - sounds like you are a safe place for that child who desperately needs a safe place and someone to talk to. Keep up what you are doing.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Sep 18, 2009

    A student of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor the year after I had her in class.

    I agree with the suggestions about sending a thinking of you card, calling and offering specific help, and being there for the older child.

    If you are close to the brother, could you help him get or make a present for the ill sibling? Nothing is going to take the anxiety away, but maybe if he did something, he might feel a teeny bit more in control.

    Little things often make more of an impact than one would think. When my late husband was diagnosed, one of my students brought him a present. It was a handmade card and a figurine that had a little girl holding a basket of flowers with a little sign that said get well. My big, strong husband put that on the table beside his chair where he could see it every day. When he had to stay in the hospital bed in our room, he asked me to put it in the bedroom where he could see it.

    So no matter how little you think your gesture is, it might mean the world to the little one or his family.
     
  16. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 19, 2009

    Mine wasn't a "student", but it was a kid at a daycare I worked at while going through University. He was left alone to watch TV, while his dad was working in the shed or something... kid got curious and wandered outside where there was a rottweiler... he was mauled to death by the dog. There was a criminal case and everything. Very difficult to go through.

    I agree with many posters that a little gesture means a lot. All the best.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think the hardest part about losing a student is that you still have to be "on" for the other kids. You can't really wallow in your own grief, because you need to be there for all those classmates who have just lost one of their own.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been fine at a student wake and funeral, then come home and curled up into a ball, crying for hours on end.

    It's brutal.
     
  18. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Sep 19, 2009

    I have never lost a student but I wanted to chime in that I think a letter/note would be a wonderful gesture. That mommy will treasure that letter forever.
     
  19. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

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    I remember in January of 1999, going to Set Construction in highschool. I always helped build our sets for the musicals. Walking in the parking lot and a friend came out crying...I was like what's going on. A friend of ours who also did set..to this day I still don't really process what happenend. He was playing russian roulette with a fully loaded gun, but drugs were involved. So we don't know if it was a suicide or what. But I'll never forget the look on my art teachers face. I still keep in contact with her and have traveled with her...She is the type of teacher that can stay strong no matter what, That is the type of woman she is. To see her crying.....it was like wow. She was the teacher everyone went to when they were having problems, needed someone to talk to.
     
  20. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    It was horrible and I was a sub at the time, but I was at that particular school two to three times a week. Many of the teachers were never able to see counselors and some of the survivors refused. Both of those who refused ended up with pretty serious drug problems. Neither finished high school.

    Its depressing and sad to know that, and I think I cried more for the kids who lived (who I knew better) than the ones who died.
     
  21. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Sep 19, 2009

    I have never had a student die but I have been the student "dying" (obviously I overcame it). What was the best was the letters I got from teachers and students. For the parents, I would send either a letter or even an email just showing that you are thinking of them. Do not be offended if they do not respond, some people are open about things like this and others are not.

    I also received cards from my own class and other classes. That was great for me because it showed how many people were thinking of me. You might try and figure out if this child would like to receive cards. You just have to talk to your students about what to write (no get well soon, etc).

    Anything you do to reach out to the family in this time will be appreciated. I am sure this is so hard for you and I think it is great that you are supporting his older brother.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    And, in times of crisis, practical gestures are wonderful!!

    The principal's secretary in our buidling had an awful accident in July and broke 2 vertebrae. She's still in the hospital while they try to wean her from the ventilator and decide what to do about her back-- it's just horrible.

    A bunch of us chipped in and got a variety of gift certs for meals... everything from Boston Market to diners and restaurants near the hospital. In times of crisis, people still have to eat and need clean laundry and have their lawns mowed. Anything practical you can offer (as opposed to "anything I can do"... ) would be gratefully appreciated.
     
  23. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Sep 19, 2009

    Just lost one last month, and it caught us all by surprise. This girl was a junior in HS, a frail little girl that only had a few friends at the school. It shook people up as they realized they were truly missing her after she died, and I'm sure a couple bullies felt awful.
     
  24. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sep 19, 2009

    I haven't yet but my educator parents have lost several. Two of my classmates died after graduation and their families asked that my parents be notified through the school so I could find out as well. The worst was the first one, a junior who was killed in a car crash. My mother still tears up about that even though it was over 25 years ago.
     
  25. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    I've never lost a student or classmate, thank goodness. Everyone's suggestions are wonderful, and I think that offering to help in concrete ways would help the family so much. I just wanted to also share something I do with you: if I know someone is Catholic, or even just wouldn't mind a religious card even if they aren't Catholic, I enroll them in the Society of the Little Flower. The cards are beautiful, and people I've known who have been very sick or lost a loved one (one co-worker lost his young son) always seem to appreciate it a lot. It's comforting to know that someone is praying for you/your loved one, even if the person dies. They have a variety, from a healing mass to perpetual life and death, to a children's mass enrollment. I'm not extremely religious, but it's something I've always felt was very touching. I started doing it because I remember how special it was to me when a close "aunt" got me one that was from a mission on a Navajo reservation (the name escapes me). She got a perpetual mass card for my father, who had died years earlier, and I almost cried from the pure thoughtfulness of it!
     
  26. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Sep 19, 2009

    One of my former students was killed. So sad. He was only 12. It was one of those "friend" of the family gone crazy type of things. The guy killed the father and sister, too. I think it was about money being owed. I hate thinking about it.
     
  27. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Sep 29, 2009

    I have had the sadness of losing a student. Several, actually. However, I also had the experience of watching a student being diagnosed with cancer, facing all of the treatments etc. As everyone knows, you have no knowledge about what the future brings for someone in that condition. Financially, I was unable to help. But, I did the one thing I could. I put his picture up on the board by my clock so everyone would keep him in their thoughts and prayers. Additionally, we made videos of a regular day and took it all around the school so people could send their wishes and greetings. We did a joke time on one. We did science experiments and story readings etc. on others. This was a positive experience for the givers as well as the recipients. Not only did it connect the kids to the one who was so sick and enduring school absence and difficult treatments and being far from home in an experimental program, but it helped his parents as well. We could provide a glimmer of normalcy and a reminder of what they were fighting to regain - regular everyday healthy life. They were very appreciative. I know many others who helped buy the needed things, provided meds, laundry support, mail pickup and meal drop offs. I gave what I could. Emotionally, you are on edge because you do need to be uplifting for those around you. It is not easy. Cancer eats more than cells. It eats emotions, hope, money, time, friendships and more. I am very grateful to God to be able to say that this young guy, now a 7th grader, is healthy and participating in football. However, even if his story had ended differently, I would have no regrets in providing a picture of regular days to that family. Everyone's advice is on target. Additionally, you might find out if they have a caringbridge.org site where friends can post encouraging messages. Your student will be in my prayers and if you think of it, post an update now and again or pm me. I wish you well in your efforts to be a benefit to a family who needs it.
     

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