Apr 17, 2009

Quit trying to define me!

Last night was another session at The WARM Place and I was so rushed to get everything done and get there on time (a big thanks to Aunt Jen again for helping!) that I didn’t really put much thought to what the night might entail. We all got there a little early which was great so the kids had a chance play and relax before we headed in had our pot luck dinner. This week, and last, a few new families joined our group; it’s nice to not be the latest addition anymore.

As the evening progressed the conversation was started by reading fortune cookie sized pieces of paper with certain emotions listed on them; I know it seems a bit corny but for a room full of grieving spouses it’s a great way to get things moving and since the crowd is made up of people with losses that are still fresh and just a few months from the event as well as those a few years removed from their day we get some really good perspectives on various common problems like insomnia, children’s anxiety, etc.

When it came to me I just started venting about the elementary school and all that I posted about before. I honestly expected to hear something along the lines of “Well, what did you expect? They were late like 35-40 times.” Instead I inadvertently started a group wide vent on how public schools just don’t understand what kids go through after losing a parent or sibling. And it seems that school tardiness is much like sleepless nights and other common widow/widower issues; it just comes with the territory. The other common thread is that public schools are just not equipped to deal with kids in these situations. I’m sure there are some that are, and have wonderful programs that help kids but from my experience and what was shared last night the majority definitely are not.

I already have a meeting with the school principal to follow up on our terrible conversation and I had already planned to educate her on who the real parent is and it’s not her or the school. But I must say that after last night I feel so much better about making my case. I want the school to understand what my kids are going through and have some consideration, but I’m not asking for special treatment. I don’t expect them to place them in some category of “special kids” but I do expect them to understand that at no point ever should you harass a child for the actions of the parent. There can be exceptions to the rules, especially if the rules are inadequate and need to be modified.

I guess my contempt for this school administrator is because she tried to identify with me when she had no idea what it’s been like for me. Then told me that the school was trying to be “merciful” with us; as if they are some overseeing power that governs my life. She put a label on me based on her own narrow minded views and expected me to fit her perception. I don’t want her to define me or my children and then expect us to fill, or squeeze into, her definition. I want her to keep my children safe when I’m not there and have the teachers teach them the curriculum without putting in any bias. I am a widower father of three very intelligent children but I will never fit her myopic vision of what that means!

My life still floats by in a fog, my days run into one another and blur together. My nights are long and lonely.

This is grief.

This is my journey through it.

This is not who I am.


  1. I stared at this little box for several minutes thinking of what I could say to try to help. Everything I came up with was lame, so I'll go with I'm really sorry. Really, really sorry.

  2. I don't think this problem is limited to schools. I think young widow/ers are an anomaly that very few people, if any, are truly prepared to deal with. After two years, I still encounter people who don't know, people who just want me to "move on" so things will be "normal" in my life again, and people who whisper about my "situation" as I leave the room...