Friday, October 28, 2011

A Life Cut Short

This has been a rough week.  A 6th grade student of mine took her own life a week ago.  I had to walk into my first hour on Monday, and tell them the news.  Then last night I attended her funeral.  A teacher should never attend a student's funeral.  Much the way a parent should never attend the funeral of their child.

It was described to some of our students as a hole that we have fallen into.  It's dark, we wonder how we got there.  But while we acknowledge the loss, and remember it's okay to be sad, we must begin to climb out of that hole.

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While I watched my students listed to this message, I realized how very much I needed to hear it myself.  I struggle with depression.  And depression is part of the reason my uncle took his own life 2 years ago.  While speaking with a family member we discussed how often people hide their emotions.  How often they struggle with mental illness, and tell no one.  Because it's just not something we do.

Why is that?  Why is it something we feel we need to keep quiet?  Why do we force people to wear masks of contentment, of happiness, when what they really feel is despair, loneliness, or apathy?  These are questions I've been struggling with lately, as I have begun the backwards slide into my own hole of darkness.  Depression is a powerful thing.

Whether you are diagnosed with depression or not is not the point.  Because we all get sad sometimes.  We all feel lonely.  We all feel depressed.  So you know can have an inkling of what it feels like.  But for those who have depression, the little things that make us sad begin to feel like weights being carried on our backs.  How do we climb out?

We remember that it's okay to be sad.  To grieve.  To feel lonely.  But then we look up from our hole.  And see that there is a light.  There is even ground above.  And if we can't quite make it alone, we look for the hand that will help us reach the top.

Life is short.  Too short.  So my reminder to myself in the coming days is that it's okay to be sad.  But I need to find a little happiness in every day.  It's okay to grieve.  But I need to find a little solace in each sunrise.  It's okay to feel lonely.  But I need to remember the hands of friends that are they to keep me company.

Remember, life is short.  So make mistakes.  
Learn lessons.  Live life the best you can, live it to the fullest. 
 Because many things in life can wait... but The Sunset Won't.

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