It started like any usual Tuesday morning, arrive at work, start up laptop and connect to the network. Emails checked, strong black coffee in hand and ready to start the day!
I picked up my first child and was in the middle of talking about her fears of leaving her class in 5 weeks and moving up to the next year group. Her main worry was not being able to come to see me for pastoral support, harder curriculum and who will support her with her dyslexia! I’d managed to satisfy her worries with a list of questions she felt she could ask her class teacher, things she wanted me to bring up and some answers I could already give her about the transition!
All this while I whooped her in a game of Golden Ball Kerplunk much to her amusement (losing is a skill they need to learn and one I’m not going to fake)!
All of a sudden there was a gentle knock on the door, people don’t usually disturb my sessions unless it’s important so I knew there must have been a good reason! I was laughing with her as I opened the door to a colleague who asked to talk to me privately!
I then got the news that one of our pupils had come to school absolutely distraught, she had found out the previous evening that her dad had died and she would be attending the funeral 2 days later. I work with this child already because of low self esteem, problems forming friendships and relationships with people and trouble showing emotions. She has blossomed over the last couple of months and the previously shy girl had stood in front of WHOLE school to perform a dance just a couple of weeks ago, she’s shown great promise in football club and smiling much more in school….but still very closed when it comes to opening up about how she’s feeling.
I went back to my room and with a bright cheery voice that I wasn’t really feeling and said to the child I was previously working with that there was no time for a rematch and she can try to beat me later in the week if she wanted.It was now time to take her back to class anyway. She was happy with that and we chatted on way back to class about general, run of the mill topics of her choosing (what she was doing in class and who she was seeing after school).
I immediately went to find the bereaved child, who was slumped in the corner of the room ‘helping’ the teaching assistant with jobs to occupy her mind with a very confused, upset and worried expression! I gave her the choice of coming to my room for a chat, she smiled through tears and nodded a yes!
Another walk through the corridor this time tho it felt hard, I didn’t want to try to cheer her up, it’s important she realises that her grief is normal and that if she wants to cry while walking through school then that is OK. I didn’t want to bring up her loss until she was in my room away from other people and distractions so talked about the jobs she was helping to do in class! I gave her the choice of where to sit either on beanbags and comfy carpet or the table. She chose the table so we sat down, I could see she needed a minute so explained its ok to cry, gave her a tissue and said I was here to listen if she wanted to talk. She eventually composed herself enough to start talking and told me her dad had died, she didn’t know what had happened but he’s been ill.
She all of a sudden burst into uncontrollable sobs and dived towards me to sit on my lap for a cuddle. Now anybody looking in from the outside would’ve seen my office chair zooming across the floor with a nine year old girl grabbing hold of me… Under normal circumstances this would’ve been quite funny but sheer panic soared through me hoping that I held onto the child so she didn’t fall flat on her face!
Once she’s calmed a little and could compose a sentence through the silent sobbing she asked me a few questions. She had never spoken to anybody about death and in particular funerals. She was worried about what would happen, didn’t know what a coffin was and worried about what she would need to wear! We discussed these things in as much detail as a 9 year old could understand, looked at some images online and reassured her that if she had anymore worries or questions during the day she could come back at any time! She seemed happy with this and said she was ready for me to take her back to class, just as we were leaving another pupil came to my room ready for a sibling get together (they live apart) so I had to slip back to the super cheery, fun me again!
This left me exhausted and all before 10am!
It also left me thinking about lots of things in my life!
I have a poorly friend who’s been to sick to work for nearly 18 months with no definite diagnosis. Been told possible stroke? Brain lesions, chronic migraines (a type where she goes from one migraine straight into another and only a couple of good days a month! She’s grieving for a lost life, job, fitness and health! I’m also grieving my happy, fun, friend who loved exercising with our group, dancing and having girly nights!
I’ve also been thinking about how much better I am feeling after a few weeks off tecfidera. The fear of starting plegridy is nearly as big as the fear of not taking a disease modifying treatment! I’ve got my appointment to sort paperwork in a month. I probably need to stay off the Facebook support group which are fairly negative about the side effects. My main worry is losing 2 out of every 4 weekend because I rely on my weekends to function as a normal person! I fill it full of ALL the everyday things I don’t have time or energy to do during the working week! I visit family and see boyfriend as well as fit in gym and food shopping and housework… It’s already a struggle so hate to think how I will manage if I lose half of them to flu like symptoms. I will be spending my weekends recovering enough to drag my butt through a working week only to start the exhausting process again!
I usually feel like I’m at the acceptance stage of grief that my health has brought on but all it takes is something to change and bam, back to fear, sadness and anger at how cruel life is for some people!