As wisdom warriors, educators and administrators, are central players, often on-call, like doctors, 24-7-365. We unselfishly give of ourselves to others in need. For many, it is our calling, the very essence of who we are and we are extremely thankful and humbled for the opportunity to serve, inspire, educate, enlighten and learn. Ours is a crucial courageous path with a heart and daily opportunities to create, guide and share. As varied as schools are, so too are our needs and abilities to multitask melancholy while addressing our fiduciary responsibilities.
There are however, massive moments in our lives when we are either forced to push past the pain of personal loss in order to be productive, present and available. Supreme care is essential to help our emotional response to loss which often feels as ominous as the ancient aepyornis. Often, we must seek and provide this essential care ourselves. How can we keep motivating our scholars, giving through our grief, while not being paralyzed by our pain?
Unfortunately, very rarely are educators and administrators equipped with a sacred space or given the time, tools and/or advice necessary to be present for ourselves during difficult times. The short sorrow list includes death, divorce or illness. There are of course many more life challenges commanding our attention and we each respond to tragedy in different ways: automaticity, showcase smiles, short temperedness, embracing affection, discussion, denial, dismissal and/or retreat.
While there are guidelines that broach grief in the classroom, many are designed to help the teacher help the student. Is it also okay for us to find/create a sacred space in which we too may fall down so we can rise again?
Very few educational programs offer insight or create (non-judgmental) spaces for teachers and administrators to embrace, push through (not just past) their pain, while simultaneously staying productive, centered and being a positive force in the classroom and schoolhouse.
The website “grievingstudents.org” offers practical advice for teachers to help students during times of great sadness, bereavement and despair. And the American Federation of teachers reports that as many as 70% of students are going through some type of grief. But how many teachers are experiencing grief and working to “keep it together” at school when they would much rather assume the fetal position, adorn a bautta and/or go to bed?
Whether we are team teaching, embracing student-led, lecture, experiential, constructivist or Montessori-style classrooms, teachers and administrators are still viewed as being the emotionally available leader and are centre-stage. What can we do and where do we go when we’ve experienced loss? Here are a few ideas that may prove helpful. Many have existed for thousands of years. All ideas listed here are respectfully shared with the understanding that grief, like giving, has many layers and perceptions. Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), like any other great challenge is often best addressed with the help of a medical doctor, therapist and/or psychologist. Whatever methods we choose, it is important for educators and administrators to understand that we are human, and it’s more than okay to be just that. MAKING water and MAKING time to take GREAT care of ourselves is not a selfish luxury, it is self preservation and a moral imperative for you, your scholars and our world.
Ideas for self-care and to help us continue to give and GROW through grief.
BE in Nature
Calling upon a spiritual leader or counselor
Earth kindness – planting flowers
Journaling – Memories and Lessons Learned.