Schools are Closed – Grieving for the Loss of Normal
April 2, 2020
On April 2, 2020, Governor Whitmer announced an executive order to cease all K-12 in building school for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The news hits me hard, though I knew in my heart that it was coming. We are in difficult times. Making this decision could not be easy for anyone involved. Now that the decision is official it is time to take a minute and grieve for the loss of normal.
Loss of my Community
We adore our school community. My children are blessed with amazing teachers and administrators who deeply care for their students. When I walk into the office, they know who I am and who belongs to me. I have been through a lot with this community and I trust that they have my children’s best interests at heart. My heart is sad that our school year is ending without closure. It may seem simple, but I want the chance to say good-bye, stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you in September.
Loss of my Children’s Community
My silly girls will tell you they are anti-social. This is an absolute lie! The truth is they are quiet and nervous around strangers, but around “their” people they are complete social butterflies. Walk down the sidewalk at dismissal and you will see them tackled by bear hugs and shouted to from open car windows. My girls NEED their people, their community. Video calls and texting do not replace friendship in real life. I am sad my girls will be away from their full community until the 2020-2021 school year. It is a loss I know they will both feel deeply, even if they cannot put it into words.
Loss of Important Firsts and Lasts
The 2019-2020 school year is my little man’s first school experience. It is his first time being away from momma and around new grown-ups and new friends. He loves his school, his teachers, and his friends. Ending the school year abruptly makes little sense to his four year old mind. My heart grieves that he is missing out on the conclusion of his first big year. You cannot redo a first time. It is a one shot deal. I also grieve for everyone who is losing their last year of elementary, their last year of middle school, and their last year of high school. Though it will not be the same, it is my sincere hope that we find a way to celebrate all the important last steps being missed. Because celebration is in order, even if it is late.
Prayers for all the Teachers
As we grieve our loss of normal, our teachers are asked to create a whole new education platform under impossible and unprecedented circumstances. I grieve for our teachers. For the hours they spent creating the PERFECT classroom environment that now sits empty. I grieve for the loss of their classroom families. Our kids become their kids. Teachers spend hours and hours forming relationships with their students and I am sure they feel the abrupt stop to normal as deep as we do as parents. My prayers are with them as they think outside the box and prepare for extended distance learning. I want each teacher to know they are loved and appreciated and I know they are doing the very best they can for all of our kids.
Try Not to Worry
To all the parents who are feeling the pressure and anxiety of administering school curriculum and trying to establish some kind of normal for their children, take a deep cleansing breath. While I believe traditional education is important, we need to give ourselves a break. Remember school is a cumulative activity. These few months are just a small portion of the overall picture. The integrity of our children’s education will not be ruined by this strange and difficult time. Try not to worry about how much they are learning or if you are doing enough. Everyone is tasked to simply do the best they can. It will be enough. You cannot do this wrong. We will all make our way through these strange days, just take it one day at a time.
I will grieve the loss of normalcy, because grief is a necessary emotion. These days are difficult and strange and it is expected to have a myriad of emotions. Do not bury your emotions – embrace them and put words to them. Are you sad and angry that we are all stuck at home? Go ahead and feel it. Are you overwhelmed and anxious about all the unknowns in our world today? Go ahead and feel that too. Do you HATE home school and desperately want a return to classroom education? Feel those feelings and accept them. Once you name something and accept it, it will have less power over you. The sadness and anger will start to dissipate or at least not be present in every moment of the day. Today we grieve, tomorrow we heal, and eventually we will return to normal.