Stories of Faith

As a teacher, how do I grieve for the loss of a student?

This article was posted on: October 28, 2016

Most mornings, I take a walk with my dog. During the walk, I usually pray a rosary. Before I begin the rosary, I reflect on what will be the intention of my prayer. Often, I pray for family, our schools or a specific concern; many times, I find my intention is to pray with students I have known who have passed away. These students were so young, so innocent, that I don’t feel I am praying FOR them, but that I am praying WITH them.

As a school administrator or teacher, you are not always allowed to grieve for a student who has passed away. You are so busy making sure the proper things are in place to care for the remaining students, grieving time is not important, not possible.
But, praying WITH the deceased student, asking for his or her intercessions to help the family, to help the school, brings you closer to God, and closer to understanding.
This is the power of the communion of saints, the power of a Catholic (universal) Church. By working with the souls in heaven, on earth and in purgatory, we are able to have a better understanding of what God’s will is. And isn’t this what we need to understand: God’s will?
As I pray my rosary, I often remember one particular student who passed away the summer before her eighth-grade year. She had battled cancer for more than a year. She was happy, positive, a light within our school. She understood God’s will better than any scholar, because she lived a joyful, faithful life. I know that her prayer, combined with my prayer brings me closer to the understanding she possessed. And hopefully, if she can help me understand God’s will, she can help me reach eternal salvation in heaven with God, and with her.

By Thomas Reichenbacher
Superintendent of Catholic Schools


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