I remember being by the shelter shed on the day they called my name over the school’s loudspeaker. I was in grade 3 and never had been requested to come to office this way before.
Mum was waiting for me in the principal’s office.
I knew it was bad news – I could see it in everyone's faces. I knew it was about dad.
Mum took from me straight from school to the hospital. I was told it was time to say goodbye and see him for the last time. Dad had been sick with cancer for several years. He spent his days in out and of hospitals.
He was lying there, so still and so cold. Me, standing there, with my school uniform sticking to me.
His death was such a shock. He had been so well the day before when we went to visit him.
The funeral was a bit of a blur and before I knew it, I was back at school. My memory is a very patchy after that and very hazy for the rest of my year.
(Image – Alicia, Grade 3, Glenhuntly Primary School)
The Father’s Day stall must have been a little awkward that year for me as I adapted to the change in our family structure. Mum sent money for me to buy something for my brother but it wasn’t the same. My primary school best friend made me a card for Father’s Day. I was very touched that she was thinking of mum and me at the time.
That primary school friend continued to contact me on Father’s Day for years. Some 30 years later she still sends me a text message around the day to say she remembers my father. It is a moment and a memory that has also stuck with her since her primary school days.
Loss and the associated grief that comes with it is significant for primary school aged children and that is why I published this unique book. It will allow some classes and teachers to have those moments to help reconcile and understand the massive change that has happened for that student.
Featuring stories, as well as practical and thought-provoking questions, and role play scripts based on various scenarios, Hazel and I hope Grief and Loss in Schools is a welcome resource to classrooms.
Grief and Loss in Schools is available here