Monday, October 17, 2005

'The Grieving Process'

So when did we develop ‘The Grieving Process’ and when did it become mandatory? I heard a new story this morning, and it was quite tragic. During this 5-minute sound bite, I heard about how a chartered bus carrying a local school band from a state band competition crashed into a semi that jackknifed in front of it.

Turns out, there were five deaths, the bus driver, the band director, his wife their granddaughter and a student teacher. This is of course a sad and tragic event. But listening to the school principal (or superintendent, not sure which one) talk about it on the new gave me that sick-to-the-stomach feeling.

During his 5-minute sound bite I’m pretty sure I never heard the name of anyone killed in the accident, but did hear ‘The Grieving Process’ mentioned no less than 23 times. They are brining on extra counselors to help students, staff, and faculty deal with ‘The Grieving Process.’ They are brining in twice the number of substitute teachers to help the students, staff, and faculty deal with ‘The Grieving Process.’ The day will go on as usual, but at any time anyone can leave class and find a counselor to help them with ‘The Grieving Process.’ At the start of the school day, everyone will hear from a counselor or psychologist at the start of class and be told about ‘The Grieving Process.’ As a community, we will all now have to pull together to get through ‘The Grieving Process’ so we can all move on together. And on, and on, and on.

With all that extra staff, there will now be pressure to participate in ‘The Grieving Process’ even if you are not grieving over these losses. I’m sure that there will be notes made about those who did not go through ‘The Grieving Process’ for signs of them being apathetic sociopaths.

With all of this focus on ‘The Grieving Process,’ it has changed from a measure to help those who could actually use the support into some type of obligation that many will just not understand. It may well even cause more problems as some of the kids ask themselves if they are bad people or if something is wrong with them because they do not feel the need to be a part of ‘The Grieving Process.’ What will people think of me if I do not go through ‘The Grieving Process’ with them? I didn’t make it to that candlelight homage at 5 A.M. for some people I’ve never met and only one of which I’ve even heard of?

I’m not trying to belittle the tragedy that occurred. I’m sure that many of his students and several member of the faculty and staff will feel this loss sharply. It is the sense of obligation and the constant invocation of ‘The Grieving Process’ that, to me, is actually belittling the fact that a tragedy has occurred. The people who need to grieve will grieve in their own ways in their own time. Indirectly forcing everyone else into it will only detract from those who actually will.

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