Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Learning

Cara's classmate is dead, and the lessons begin for the rest. The night of the accident, a bunch of kids went to the school and, in their grief, spray painted the walls with messages to their friend. I am surprised at the number of parents who see this as acceptable. Their children need to express their emotions. I'm with that. However, their 'children' (who will be graduating in a couple months) need to learn to express their emotions as adults. Hand lettered signs tapped into the ground would have given them the same opportunity to express their emotions. We'll be paying to have the walls cleaned, unless the school intends to leave those macabre messages to a popular dead girl forever.
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Cara went to school yesterday. She signed herself out. I did not know that she had done so. I guess I'm a little on edge, too, because this made me very nervous. She rode the bus to school, she signed herself out early, rode home with someone, retrieved her car, and was gone. I was not happy. I could have called her at any time, but I assumed she was at school. I didn't see the need. At 4 in the afternoon, I was talking to her on her cell phone. "Where are you? Why did you leave school? How did you get home?" I was surprised to find that the teachers were not teaching yesterday. They were consoling. I understand this. My own Sunday School class was completely derailed by the children's need to talk about the accident, and the crying teenagers they'd seen. It was a good opportunity to discuss the importance of our church community. We talked about what they could do to be positive examples of God's love to those hurting teenagers. So, yes, I understand the importance of consoling these teens. What I do not understand is the wisdom of allowing them to hop into cars, head off to parts unknown. This seemed like a potential tragedy in the making.
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Grief is a part of life. There are lessons in dying. If you are wise, you learn them. As awful as this horrible thing was, there are lessons here, about caution, about love, about life itself. You learn them. You apply them to your own life in tribute. You grieve. You allow yourself to be consoled, to be loved. In that consolation, you are pulled back into the river that is life, and the currents of that life sweep you down river, away from the grief. You shouldn't forget, but you learn about the inexorable pull of life. I believe that in our pain, wisdom takes root and begins to grow.
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I am sorry that Cara grieves.
I am sorry for this class.
It makes me sad that there are so many people that are missing a chance to teach a valuable life lesson.

7 comments:

Mary Paddock said...

The teachers are in a tough place--especially with seniors, trying to speak to kids on the crux of adulthood without running the risk of offending parents. The kids are in a tough place too--learning to deal with loss and the unspoken truths behind deaths like this that you and I already know. And you are certainly in a lousy spot as the mother who doesn't want to see your daughter in pain, but knowing there's no short cuts to through it. I've prayed for you both this morning.

A friend of mine once said that death has a way of throwing you back on yourself. The lesson, sadly enough, teaches itself, especially when it's the loss of a young person.

Mary Paddock said...

The teachers are in a tough place--especially with seniors, trying to speak to kids on the crux of adulthood without running the risk of offending parents. The kids are in a tough place too--learning to deal with loss and the unspoken truths behind deaths like this that you and I already know. And you are certainly in a lousy spot as the mother who doesn't want to see your daughter in pain, but knowing there's no short cuts to through it. I've prayed for you both this morning.

A friend of mine once said that death has a way of throwing you back on yourself. The lesson, sadly enough, teaches itself, especially when it's the loss of a young person.

Pencil Writer said...

I'm with you. There is a perfect opportunity here for teaching. Mary P hinted that there were circumstances that contributed to the deaths of those two young people in Cara's class that should have been addressed. What an opportunity to link choice and accountability! Those "IF/THEN" relationships have to be drilled into brains!

Yes. This is a time for mourning and seeking for comfort/understanding. It's very hard. One young woman (17 yrs.), a high school student of mine, had a devestating summer last year. A close cousin (young man) was killed in a car accident. Just 2 or 3 months later--and 2 or 3 days prior to this girl's 17th birthday--her boyfriend was killed in a horrible car accident just a few minutes after they spoke on the phone. (It was his older uncle's fault. The uncle's 13 yo daughter and this young man died instantly. The uncle/dad survived.)

In both accidents, poor judgement, speeding, and other factors were the cause. She's still struggling with the emotional side of grief and trying to get on with her life. She's getting counseling and has a terrific extended family support system. But some days she just breaks down into sobbing. I've held her while she struggles. I pray for her, as many have and will continue to do.

Grief is different for everyone. But, I'm with you. Some real teaching opportunities look like they've been missed.

Oh, and about the grief graffiti . . . as part of the healing AND as part of dealing with accountability for their actions, why not require the whole school to participate in the painting over process? It could be really a positive community effort.

Alison said...

My thoughts and prayers are with your community. What an awful experience for everyone.
I agree that from grief comes learning, and that these life lessons can ultimately be very valuable. I think though, that these lessons can take a little more time to sink in and be appreciated.
Grief can be horrible, all consuming and often blinding. In the beginning it can be hard to see past your own pain. Learning to express your emotions is a very valuable lesson, and also one that is hard to learn without experience and sometimes contrast.
Even for people with years more life experience, a tragic, sudden death is a hugely traumatic and shocking event is hard to cope with. I'm assuming that for many of these young people, this is their first experience of such grief. Honestly, I don't think it's surprising that they may not be making the best choices for expressing their emotions. My hope would be that as their grief eases, they will be able to learn from the choices they made and see them more objectively. Maybe this life experience will help them in the future, so that they can draw on this learning and this experience and make different choices.

jeanie said...

I can see what you mean about allowing Cara to leave and go AWOL.

Everybodies grieving process is different, and this must be so raw. Lots of hugs to Cara and you and everybody affected.

I'm Mikey said...

Your wisdom about grief blows me away. Very true words.

sexy said...
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