Mourning alone? or not?

I have a question I’m struggling with. I’m a teacher and had a student of mine killed on Christmas day. It’s been incredibly hard for all as is expected, especially for the mom. I was especially close to this 12 year old; she was a constant help for me in my classroom and for my wife and I babysitting our little kids. Her Catholic faith was very important to her, but I am unclear how her family felt about the faith themselves. I had always been under the impression she went to church with her grandfather and the rest of the family did something else.
In any case, I knew her mom pretty well; we spoke during many parent conferences talking at length of how to best help this little girl as she got older. I never met the mom’s boyfriend once, so I have no idea how that part of things enter into this. My student had one little brother living with them at home.
Now this sweet thing is gone and I mourn her each day. I know, of course that anything I’m going through is so tiny in comparison, but it still is very painfull. Here’s the problem. I not only grieve the loss of my student, I suffer for the pain her mom is going through. It’s brutally hard for me to see this nice lady’s life falling down around her. I’ve spoken with her quite a few times and it kills me to see the enormous hurt, especially since I am worried about her spiritual condition. I go to the gravesite each day on my lunch myself to pray for her and the whole family along with brining flowers.
Here’s the sticking point - we mourn with those who mourn, and suffer with the afflicted as the good samaritian story says, but what about when the injured party doesn’t know we are suffering for them? What comfort am I when this mom doesn’t see me suffering too? What use (spiritual beyond the “healing process”) is suffering alone for someone that’s so lost?
It seems like I could easily “get busy,” forget the suffering/prayer and move on - suffering no more. Seems like an easy escape for me.
I see how important it is to suffer with those who are suffering, but what benefit is it to sufferer if I am not in contact with them? I can see the standard “worldly” suffering is good for you - the grief process, but I wondering about beyond that.
I’d appreciate any thoughts.
Joe

Joe,

I to am a teacher and understand how her death has a left w hole in the clessroom. She is a part of you as all your students become a part of you. Your relationship went further because of your relationship with her outside of school. Your babysitter passed away.

Is it important that her mother knows you are mourning for her? Not really. You have every right to mourn for your student she meant alot to you. This is normal. This school year will be tough because she was a part of your class.

How is the class handling this? Are there counselors available? Have you talked to someone? Has the school done something to remember her by? What is your principal doing with this? Is the other child in your school?

Have you called up the mom to see how she is doing? Would she have time to come and talk to you? Just because her daughter is gone that doesn’t mean that you have to stop communication. Don’t be afraid to call and check up on her once a week. It will show that you care.

Peace,
Jen

Jen,

Thanks for the quick reply. You were a GREAT comfort to me.
Actually, I had her in 5th and 6th grade (I switched out of the regular classroom and ran the school lab while she was in 6th grade - she ended up as an independent student with me one-on-one) and went on to 7th grade at a different school so I don’t know anyone except her mom now.
I’ve talked to the mom after the Rosary/Funeral/Reception only once at the gravesite. We spent almost an hour talking and crying - it seemed to be great for us both. I asked her to let me know when the cemetary had “recently deceased mass intentions” (they have a chapel there), and she said she would let me know. She called me one day to let me know when it was, said she’d meet my wife and I there, and we’d talk again that day.
My wife and I atttended, but she didn’t come. We figured that she was just so completely distraught that she couldn’t come. I called her house to make sure she was ok and left a message to let me know she was alright. I’ve not gotten a call or e-mail. Since she has all my info, I figured I’d wait for her to get in touch with me when she’s ready. I’ve not spoken to her since (about a week now). My wife and I sent a letter that we pray for her daily and I go to the gravesite daily to pray, along with an enrollment in the Priests of the Sacred Heart memorial where she and her daughter will be prayed for constantly.
I spoke to my priest about it and he told me that moms in this place really need to grieve and it takes a while - and to let her go through it at her own pace. He urged me not to try too hard to speak with her; her suffering is something she just needs to accomplish. God knows, the LAST thing I want to do is make this worse for her.
I dearly wish I had someone (thank God for my wife’s kind ear) to speak with - I’ve had deaths close to me before (even students), but this one for some reason really has me on my knees. It’s really opened up my eyes to what’s really important.
Back to my question though - being that this is so very hard for me (suffering-wise) what good is it to suffer for someone by myself? I feel like I could press it all back and rejoin the “world” but it just doesn’t seem like what God wants me to do…
Thanks,
Joe

Joe,

I really sympathize with you. My best friends sister was killed in a car crash in October. Sometimes, the pain of it-even though i wasn’t as close to her as I am to her sister, we were still friends- is unbearable. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m not really sure what to say beyond sympathizing in general, but I think I know what you mean. You feel like you should be able to do more for the family, you feel kinda helpless. That’s how I felt for my friend’s family. I wanted to hug my friend and comfort her and on the inside I was screaming and crying. Death is so beyond all of us here. My best weapons now are prayer and patience. I think maybe the mom needs time to grieve for her daughter on her own. Let her know that you are always there. Call, send a note, whatever is appropriate, whenever you feel you need to. Even though she might not be able to respond just yet, she will recieve your messages and may be comforted by them, in knowing that she isn’t alone, she has a friend who isn’t just “moving on” when she never will really be able too.
I hope this helps you a little. I’ll say a prayer for you all. God Bless…

Joe,

Thank you so much for sharing your grief with us here on the forums. You are reaching out to us and that is the perfect thing to do in such a situation as yours. Hopefully our posts will help you to process your feelings of grief.

Remember that you are not really alone in your mourning. All of you are mourning–you, the mother, all the wee girls’ relatives, her schoolmates, her teachers and all her friends. Each one of these folks will grieve in their own way and it may appear very different than how you grieve. You are doing some wonderful things with your grieving: praying and visiting her grave and bringing flowers and calling the mother. Though it may seem solitary it is not–your heart is enjoined with all those who are mourning for this little girl. You are doing so much just by praying, and expressing your feelings. You are not alone, friend.

This little girl was very blessed to have a teacher such as you, who cares very deeply for her, Joe. And her remaining schoolmates are very blessed to witness your caring and devotion.

Many blessings,

Geraldine

Joe,

Your suffering is not in vain. All suffering has value, as it is in suffering that we pick up the cross and follow Christ and this is EXTREMELY powerful. Your prayers for the mother’s soul, and the daughters path from purgatory are so much stronger when you unite them to the Cross through your suffering.

Please know that God loves you very much, so he would never give you meaningless pain. We don’t always understand the meaning, but it’s there all the same.

God Bless,

CARose

I have to say, I didn’t intend or expect comfort from posting. But I sure appreciate the words of encouragement. They REALLY helped more than I would have hoped. Really.
The whole thing is crazy for me; I’m a 46 year old man that spent the first 1/4 of my life Catholic, the next 1/2 being a very active anti-catholic Bible-thumping protestant, and the past 7 years trying very hard to embrace my reverted Catholic faith. I’m not a stranger to suffering - it was terribly aweful when I reverted back to being Catholic - I lost extremely close friends when they thought I’d lost my mind… I’ve had most all of my relatives die as well, I have just about only my sister and mom left (and I never see them). I say that to say this; I’m a pretty deep thinker and I’ve always tried hard to be close to God as things I’ve lost slipped away.
The past few years I’ve been as faithful as I could possibly be. Unfortunately for me, I’ve also let the world press in on me as well. I’ve been obsessed with things that became important to me - how well I can fly my helicopter (R/C), how hard I can excercize my body, how I’m liked at my job, how difficult my job was, how tired I was after doing so much, and sadly, how difficult it was to be putting so much time into these needy children at school, specifically the young lady I lost. Besides, I have five kids of my own (from 9 months to 17 years old). I became the chief complainer of a guy trying to do good.
How foolish of me. I knew my faith, what should be important, what are the best things to concern yourself with, and I still couldn’t see it right in front of my face. Now I see what I was trying to instill in that littlel girl all along - don’t get wrapped up in what’s not important. It’s so very easy to do, and I didn’t even see it.
Here I am, 46 years old. You’d think with all I’ve been through I’d have “gotten it.” But I didn’t. It took the loss of this little girl to wake me from my slumber (actually she was pretty tall - she always complained that she was growing too much… “Mr. Eiers, I keep on growing!!”).
I thought that I would have been spiritually and emotionally mature enough to deal with this - easy.
I was wrong.
The good news is that I’m so much closer to God. The bad news is that I’ll always have a hole in my heart till I see her again.
Thanks for listening everyone.
May God bless you all.
Joe

Joe,

You have learned a powerful life lesson. Yes, a hole will always be in your heart turn it into a good thing. Let her be a constant reminder to you to focus on what’s important. Rejoice in her life and what, through her death, she has taught you.

Another poster said it right, you are not alone. Never feel you are alone. We are here as a big family. Lean on your church family and God. Keep praying for her.

Peace,
Jen

Dear Joe,

I don’t think I can write anything that would help you that hasn’t already been written. Remember, we are never too old to learn and God will give us “growing pains”. I can guarantee you though, when the pain begins to ebb, you will feel refreshed and closer to God.

My heart goes out to you brother. To be united or feel drawn to others as they suffer is a wonderful gift. Thank God, He is so good to us.

Peace,
Trevor

There were many very comforting things said here. Thanks so much. I wasn’t going to post anything - I debated for weeks, and finally decided it might help. I’m glad I did, it was a step forward for me. I thought I was mourning alone. It’s good to see I’m not.
God bless you!

Joe

Isn’t suffering the most odd of all we go through in the human experience. It is typically associated with detaching from that which we needn’t be attached to in the first place, which is why God allows it. Suffering is salvific.

God Bless you on your path. It sounds very similar to me, although I converted to Judiasm in my days of wandering.

Sure is great to be back home, but I too have lost friends, who also think I’ve lost my mind.

And, I talked to a friend this morning, one of the only people I can talk bible with from my old group of friends, and when I told her about the Walk For Life, she clammed up, and needed to get off the phone :frowning:

Oh well.

Glad we can help you here with what little we have to share.

CARose

I went and talked to my priest yesterday and he helped me a lot. Although we talked for quite a while and covered a lot of ground, a few things really hit me. He noticed that I was really hurting for her mom, and that although it was a good thing, I needed to understand that her grief was a GOOD thing and necessary for life. Her mom needed to go through it to survive. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, but it was tremendously helpful. For some odd reason I’d never seen suffering as a good thing. Then he showed me how my suffering was ALSO good, and that in suffering I was participating in Christ’s suffering. I went away feeling far better.
I still ache for the young girl and her mother, but now that it’s a good thing I can breathe…
God bless,
Joe

May God continue to bring peace to your soul, Joe.

Jen

Joe, please know that you are in our prayers,

CARose

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