Teaching Students How to Say Good-Bye

By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As our nation mourns the victims of the tragedy in Tucson last weekend, students everywhere have the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the lives that were lost and the implication that has for how they view  their lives from here on out. If teachers and parents allow time for students to take the emotional space to hold the pain of this experience, the healing can begin and the actions of those who remain can appropriately memorialize those who have died.

Cultures from around the world, from indigenous people to advanced societies, need to honor those who have died in ways that can pay tribute to them while giving us a firm way to lead our lives in a better way. Whether we honor the deceased with funerals, rituals, a lit candle, a prayer, a letter to remaining family members or a period of silence each person can bring meaning in their own way to incomprehensible tragedies like this. Teaching young people to feel the sadness, take steps to pay homage to those who have died and then to set their own course for right action is the only way to pay tribute to those courageous victims of our society whom we lost this week. Let’s challenge each young person as this week comes to a close and as family members hold services for their loved ones, to ask these questions:

  • What enduring qualities of those who have died can I carry forth in my own life?
  • What steps can I take in my own life to stand up for democracy, listen to opposing views and be respectful of all people’s opinions?
  • What other commitments am I willing to make in my life as  a tribute to those who have died?

Never send to know for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for thee.    – John Donne

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