Cancer, Kids, and Curriculum

When a young person dies it is difficult to process their loss. You believe they should outlast you, way beyond your experience with them, plus 5 years (give or take). Unfortunately, adolescents leave this plane and the adults around them need to support other young people in their grief. We are putting together a crisis team for the first days of school. 

Last year I experienced the transition of two students, both about 21. Now there is K.L., 16 years old, former cancer survivor, and now a loss to our school community. 

This is always more important to deal with than the curriculum. Our students lives come before anything else because they are our purpose. This is at least my feeling. Ultimately, I teach survival through the advancement of each students reading and writing skills. Often times there are too many external influences we all experience during the day that get in the way of academic learning. But so what. Everything is a learning experience and the highest challenge is helping others heal from loss and subsequent fear and confusion. 

We are not simply stuck in a cycle of birth, aging, sickness, and death. We are experiencers of these processes with ourselves and others. Denying these things will happen at any moment is to live with an attitude of avoidance; and how can you truly live if you willfully ignore the realities of human life. One example is that you will always be able-bodied with the capacity to navigate the world. What happens to you when ableism is now a reality that negatively impacts how you view and move in the world?

And this is what I have to consider: how do I best support the reality of loss and grief in the lives of teenagers? It’s not new for them, but it is like looking in a mirror. Mortality is shoved in your face and you only live once takes on meaning again. I have to make their heroes journey one to thrive in and contend with, despite the set backs and difficulties. 

This is an opportunity to make life valuable to them. To help them find a purpose and strength in loss that can be transformed into energies that build love and comfort. 


A Family Affair: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

The following tweet shows mother and daughter, together, grasping hands (posted by Lea Michele).

It is indicative of what never giving up and never letting go means. Debbie Reynolds died within a day of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. So many people, of all generations are morning the loss of such immense talent. Even Zsa Zsa 

Gabor recently passed and, on Christmas day, along with George Michael, her son dies in a motorcycle accident. 

The intensity of these passings is difficult but seems to be a necessary part of this year of obstacles. It is opening us up and breaking us apart. It is the arrival of the feminine, of loss and grief. 

My hope is that we do not ignore or forget the great pains we feel but acknowledge that, even if they follow us into 2017, they bring with them the enlightenment of life and death in a single moment. The heart mattering above all else. The lotus blossoming from its murky waters. Mother and daughter meeting on an even plane as exactly the same.

It’s About Time

Get some counseling. Not from a friend you spill tea with, unless they’re certified and you’re willing to tell the truth.

Find a soothsayer counselor that aligns with your values and identity needs. Perhaps because you are considering marriage or have run into a troubling time. Each participant will enter the session with their own needs (and wants) and should be prepared to commit themselves to a prescribed number of meetings. 

This is especially important if you are considering marriage or a domestic partnership. Entering into a contract calls for a serious evaluation of what each person expects. And let’s be honest, expectations are real and ever-changing.

This year has brought about many break ups. Long term commitments that were clearly difficult to navigate. Rules change, but you are responsible for telling all players the alterations. 

I have learned from a close friend that no matter what happens, it’s your marriage. This is not something they told me out right, but something I’ve witnessed over the years. The lying, cheating, betraying and forgiving is all up to you and how storied you want your marriage to be. The most difficult part of this is when others know. Advice is free. Opinions overflow. Gossip from the past abounds and still the most important decision comes from the couple. 

The couple needs help y’all. People need to stop relying solely on their limited knowledge and experience and expand their circle of information. People who have learned their lessons have also learned from the advice they didn’t take or the question they refused to answer. 

Sometimes we must suffer and sometimes we must make an appointment.