“Back to School” time. For most areas of the country, school has begun or will soon. What that looks like in 2020 is varied. Devices distributed by the school are set up in a spot at home where interaction with a teacher and classmates takes place for a few hours each day. Parents adjust their work schedules to attempt to be present. In some places school is open, but the classroom does not look like the space most of us remember. Tables or desks are spread apart, and shields are built around the kids. If you go to your school building, you take a mask along with your pencil box and backpack.
There are the social media posts with little ones holding a chalk board in front of them with pertinent details about the first day of school. Faces are scrubbed and the new outfit is worn, even if the trip to school is right back in the front door of home. These milestone days are what fill scrapbooks and photo albums. Times like this can bring a wave of grief for families who have lost a child too soon. While other children – agemates – head off to experience that first school day, parents are reminded of the special moments they will not share with their child.
One mom, Lindsay Rhoades, wrote in her blog Kate’s Cause, ”In those early days of the grief fog and haze, the things I thought about most were what I was missing of our past. NOT what we would be missing of our future. It wasn’t until the fall last year and what would’ve been her first day of elementary school that I really started to feel the pain of missed milestones. I posted a photo on Facebook of an empty front stoop…our version of the first day of school picture. That photo went a smidge viral and shared the harsh reality of what parents like us faced on these missed milestone dates.”
In another blog Jess McClenahan wrote, ”I vividly remember grieving the many future milestones that I would miss out on seeing after Cora died. Not only did I miss her like crazy as an eleven-month-old but it just about killed me to think about not getting to see her grow up and the woman she would become. Three months after she died I attended my sister-in-law’s high school graduation and remember the tears just streaming down my face as I sat there. They wouldn’t stop. The reality that I would never get to see my baby girl grow up and graduate from high school was devastating. Those milestones seemed so far off at the time but I remember wondering how I would ever survive when the day came for her first day of kindergarten or her high school graduation or when her friends started getting married and having babies.”
Maybe 2020 is the year to remember that while we all grieve a little the loss of what we wish were a “normal” school beginning, there are those whose hearts are breaking.