Shared Sadness

Shared Sadness

October 27, 2017

As a community, we have been overtaken by sadness and grief at the loss of one of our own last week. It was unexpected. It was painful. It deeply affected every family in our tight-knit community, emotionally and even physically. We have struggled to understand. We have been left with an overwhelming and debilitating sense of loss. Its finality has weighed heavily on our minds and spirits.

We know that there are times in our lives when we will face difficult, even painful questions, to which there are no readily available or textbook answers. As parents and teachers, we hope to prepare our children with answers to life’s most important questions. Yet our experience tells us that at some point, regardless of age, maturity, education, or social standing, we will encounter questions that will test us beyond our understanding. How can we prepare ourselves and our children for such a test?

While our intent might be to shield our young, vulnerable and inexperienced as they are, from dealing with questions of human mortality, it is also a reality of life that there will be beginnings, which bring great joy, times of growth that both challenge and delight; there will also be endings, which leave us stricken with grief and an overwhelming sense of loss. In these times, we should acknowledge that there are no certainties to comfort us. Endings are not always happy.

In such times, many of us have experienced a deep sense of uncertainty, or anxiety about the future. While coping with their own reactions, parents and teachers have to stand tall and firm for their children. The reactions of young people coping with loss may vary widely. Some children seem to carry on without reaction; others deny or shut down; still others are overwhelmed by emotions that overshadow just about everything else. There is no right or wrong response.

Our instincts might be to carry on as normal. We may also give our children and others private time and space to grieve quietly. However, most importantly, we must also draw closer together and share deeply and at times painfully about our feelings. Communication with each other in such times of uncertainty is an important step in coping and finding personal closure. Listening to what our children say, and perhaps what they don’t say, is essential.

While we have suffered an aching loss that leaves only unanswerable questions, I am reassured that the bonds of shared sadness and pain have strengthened the fabric of our learning community this week. We have hugged each other, shared tears and fears. We have also perhaps glimpsed the healing that can only be found through caring for each other.

In peace.

 

Dr. Malcolm Pritchard

Head of School

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