If you’ve been reading the blog posts I’ve been posting for the last ten or so months, you probably won’t be shocked to know that most of my inspiration comes from real life issues that I face, or that my classmates face. I write about these issues because I feel they aren’t given enough attention, or because I feel it may be helpful for teens to know that there is a teen out there who understands them, who hears them, who wants to help. 

Today, I’d like to speak on another such issue that is much too overlooked: the death of a teacher. 

To some of us, teachers are mentors, friends, even caretakers. However, to many of us, teachers are just teachers. They come into the class, teach a lesson, and leave. You may form your own personal opinion of them, but the chances are that you’ll never really get to know them as more than just your teacher. 

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So how are you supposed to react when a teacher of yours passes?

A teacher of mine recently passed away, and I was flooded with emotions I haven’t yet deciphered completely. Her death didn’t, still doesn’t, feel real to me because as her student I didn’t know how bad her illness was in the first place. I have no memories of her other than of her teaching me or scolding me or advising me on matters related to her course. 

Our school held the expected moment of silence for her passing, and expressed their sympathy, but I don’t think anyone expects us to be as upset as we are. My classmates and I sat together in shocked silence for a few minutes, unable to process that she’d been there one day and gone the next.

We had plans for a new school year with her, and just like that, everything has changed. Nobody really prepares you for this loss, nobody expects it to affect you. But in my small school where our teachers are with us for years, it affects us.

To anyone out there who feels that they don’t deserve to mourn a teacher because that’s all they ever were to you, a teacher, dismiss those thoughts. Teachers are enormous parts of our lives, and expecting you to not feel anything at their passing would be like expecting you to grow a third head. Grieve any way you feel is appropriate.