Let Them Grieve

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Let Them GrieveI recently assigned my upperclassmen a COVID-19 mental health check. As a health science teacher, I take responsibility for checking on my students emotionally. I asked them to write a mini-essay on three things: How has your life been affected by COVID-19, do you think your life will be forever changed because of COVID-19, and what do you look forward to most when the pandemic is under control. These statements were all written by 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-old students and their responses deserve to be shared in complete anonymity:

“COVID-19 has affected my personal life. I was not able to go to my dad’s house for about a month because he had COVID-19. My life has definitely been changed by the virus already. Last year my pastor passed because of the virus. My papaw also passed because of the virus.”

“When COVID-19 is over I look forward to being able to go to all my favorite places again and to being able to go places without a mask. Mostly to be able to go to the beach. Also so I can go see my nanny in the nursing home again. I haven’t seen her since this all started. “

“Life would be so much better whenever I can actually go see my family without worrying about getting it. I do not want to have to worry about losing any of my family or friends to COVID-19.”

“I think my life will always be different after COVID-19. Personally, I have learned not to take anything for granted anymore and I truly appreciate every chance I get to do what I enjoy and I think this will always be a change in my life. COVID-19 didn’t necessarily change my fears but it definitely enhanced my biggest fear, which is being without my support system.”

“My grandparents and many other family members have gotten COVID-19. I worried about my grandparents the most because they are older, but they were okay. The constant worry really affected me and my ability to focus on anything else.”

“The one thing that I look forward to the most when this pandemic is under control is being able to sit on the couch with my grandparents and actually hug them.”

I miss my grandparents, I miss going to the mall without worrying about what my two-year-old may put in his mouth, and I miss going down any aisle I want in Walmart. However, I am not missing prom, graduation, or my last choral performance. I have lived and loved all of these events.

When our children want to complain, grieve, and cry, please let them. This is not the situation through which they need to learn that life is hard. I understand they may need to “grow up and understand lives are at risk” (I read that from an adult on Facebook). They too are losing experiences that would normally shape their lives. I believe we are so focused on the lives that are being lost that we are missing out on the memories our children are losing as well. In the last year they have seen death, fear, anger, loss, sadness, and isolation. Every single one of them said to me, “I am affected.”

As a teacher, I urge you to hug your child tightly and let them grieve. I am doing my best to love on them safely as well.

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Kailey Ryan
Hi, my name is Kailey. I am a Registered Nurse turned high school Health Science Teacher. I am a proud wife and mom of 1. My sweet Brady (any football fans?) was born in August 2018. I am a Knoxville native and absolutely love the area. Where else can you drive to a beach, major city, or mountains in less than 6 hours? I married my husband in May 2017, we have known each other since he was 16. I love all things true crime, Disney, crafts, and Mexican food . If we aren't at work you will find us traveling or planning our next trip. We have a passion for traveling and our goal is to visit all 50 states. I do also work as a travel agent. I absolutely love planning vacations for families. I have been a travel agent since 2016. At the end of the day all we have left are memories, I make sure each and every family creates lasting memories. I'm most certainly not an expert on being a mom, but I hope to add some experiences and outlooks being a "millennial mom".

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