This is by no way professional advice, a substitute for therapy or a ‘what to do when’ article.
This, unfortunately, is almost inevitable in the life of teachers, through your career you will lose a pupil, I have lost many pupils, to multiple different causes including suicides, road traffic accident, violent crime and illness. It hurts until a numbness envelops you.This, unfortunately, is almost inevitable in the life of teachers, through your career you will lose a pupil. Click To Tweet
The teacher-pupil relationship is really complex, to some of these pupils you are the constant in their lives and although this is ‘work’ for us I would argue that our whole profession is predicated on the basis that we care for those we serve.
After losing a pupil, the intrusive thoughts of ‘should I have said something’ and ‘done something’, No matter how irrational these thoughts are, I call this the ‘what if’ phase, then for me comes the I don’t care phase. The world is so cruel why am I even playing this game and slowly the acceptance game. Everyone goes through feeling pupils similar to these, teachers, staff, the community I mean everyone.
We are trained to be the pillar of strength. We are strong for the kids, our colleagues, we are trained to be the adult. I am going to admit, I have cried many tears over my pupils, being the pillar of strength may be the right thing professionally but we need to recognise this takes its toll.
A pupil’s death is rarely an event that can be compartmentalised. This trauma can take months, sometimes years to deal with. Personally, I used to have a feeling of dread every year pre-holidays, with no idea of what and why I was feeling that way. Until I did. The community, teachers, our pupil, and the school family should be supported throughout these times.
I have no real answer to what this support looks like. Yes, I could suggest various things but like I said earlier I am not a professional. I would state again this is support is important and should not be pushed on to anyone other than the appropriately trained professionals.
Losing pupils to suicides is the hardest thing I have ever faced in a school. Every feeling described in the earlier paragraph is heightened. The hardest part is acceptance. Only once I accept that at that point it’s what that pupil wanted where I could move past rationalise any of it.
I’m going to leave this here. I will add to this. Just not today.