NUMBER 101ē 4 SEPTEMBER 2002 ē CHILDREN'S GRIEF
INDEX OF QUOTES
It has been my privilege to be alongside some schools suffering crises. What has been my main learning from grieving teachers and pupils? First of all, Iíve learned that children feel deeply and yearn to have their emotional pain acknowledged. Such children need a guardian angel to hover over them. Secondly, Iím convinced of the importance of the little things which make a big difference. William Wordsworth calls them the "little unremembered acts of kindness". Letís not underestimate the power of small things like writing a letter, touching, smiling, saying a wee word, catching the eye of a dreaming child.
When we keep our eyes on our children rather than the curriculum, it is possible for us to be a blessing to one another for when they suffer they are in need of our understanding, sensitivity and tenderness. In times of crisis, children long not so much for our heads but rather for our hearts.
Some time ago, a teacher told me that fifty years ago her father died suddenly in the middle of the night. Along with her brothers and sisters she was sent to relatives in the country until after the funeral. When she returned home the thing she dreaded the most was going back to school where she had an old biddy of a teacher; old, grey, fat, nasty, mean and horrible. On her first day back at school, the morning proceeded as usual and she went out to play at break time. When she returned to the classroom the teacher got up from her desk, crossed the room, knelt down beside her and hugged her. It was no ordinary hug ... it went on and on and on until she nearly got lost in the bosoms. Looking back on it so many years later, this woman knew that that ONE HUG she got was the thing which had helped her to survive. Her teacher had never read a book on grief or attended a course on childrenís grief. She simply was herself and followed her hunch. We too are called to just BE OURSELVES and follow those hunches which are given to us.
That old biddy was a most unlikely guardian angel.... yet fifty years on, her example shines like a candle in the darkness.
Cromey, D. (1996) The school's response to children's grief. Child Care in Practice: Northern Ireland Journal of Multidisciplinary Child Care Practice, Vol.3 No.2 , pp.45-48