Tuesday morning, we received the devastating news that one of Katherine's classmates had taken his own life.
Katherine was one of the closest friends he had. They sat on the bus together, had lunch at the same table, and sent text messages back and forth most every day.
When I arrived at her school after lunch yesterday, she fell into my arms sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. My heart was aching for her and for the family of this young man. This is not a situation any parent is prepared to help their children face.
Her school handled the situation in the best manner possible and has provided grief counseling and compassion for each student. The school family is grieving and trying to move forward. I am grateful for the individual and group support available to all. For us, having a gospel perspective on life and death will eventually move us forward on the path to peace and healing.
This young man was a very misunderstood person who could easily be judged by his looks. However, he was an ideal example of not judging a person by looks. He has been in our home and I enjoyed delightful conversations with him never knowing the burdens and pain he was carrying. I am certain he was the target of teasing and bullying in his previous schools and other arenas. Because Katherine has known the same treatment for most of her life at school, church, and social situations, she is one of the first to reach out to those in need of a friend. She was always a good friend to him.
Her new school is different that any place we have ever been. Each student respects and supports the other. Teasing, bullying, and excluding others is not tolerated. I believe the administration and staff have set the tone for this climate of support and acceptance. As a result of this climate, I know there was support and kindness shown toward this young man at school, yet the years of being a target took a toll on him. I am sure there were many factors contributing to his emotional and mental state.
Along with a tidal wave of emotion, Katherine is carrying the burden of guilt thinking she could have said something to make him feel better, etc. She ate lunch with him that day and felt like he was fine. We continue to assure her that there is nothing she could have done to change his choice. As I wrote earlier, this is not a situation any parent is prepared to help their child face.
Another situation most parents are not prepared for is taking their 14 year old to the funeral for a friend, yet this Saturday, that is where we will be.
Hug your children, tell them you love them. Stay close to them and enjoy them at every stage.