Tragedies affect all of us in some way but they are especially difficult when they strike the life of a child.
As a teacher, I have walked into classrooms where I have learned that a child has recently lost a parent or grandparent or whose parents are separating.
Dealing with the child as they go through these is a tricky situation. This is why I have to be extremely careful when a child has confronted me in anger, particularly when this anger is inconsistent with the child’s usual behaviour. We never know what is transpiring in their lives. Sometimes they, like adults, have ongoing problems of which no one knows.
And then there is the ultimate tragedy: the death of a child. We have heard more than enough about this in recent news all over the world.
A few years ago, I taught in a day care centre. I wrote the following poem. I hope that it brings some comfort to those of you who have lost a child.
My day care job provides me with little eyes
To peer into 50 little lives.
They bring in their little toys
And populate a little world.
I cannot squeeze into their realm
Or be allowed to cruise their streams.
I cannot enter secret doors
Or be invited on their shores.
My bigger eyes can only help
To tell me what I think I know.
But never am I really sure
What exists in their alien world.
Their parents gleam with praise
The little signs not quite mature.
They tend the little lives with care
And take for granted what is there.
Their children’s shoes show little words
Of Nike, Pocahontas, Pokemon.
Mighty beings who never die,
Lying of immortality,
Cheating those little lives
Of endless rainbows and faraways.
And dare we argue with the truth
When little lives are led astray
And Death bursts through a little door
And snatches little hearts away?
We only know that little toys and little hats and little boots
Do not help in that other realm.
To one whose life has passed him by,
Too young; too tender to understand –
They died with too little experience.