Teachers Who've Had To Tell A Class About A Student Death Break Down How It Went
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Being a teacher means you must learn to juggle many hats. Teachers are secondary parents, counselors, buddies, mentors... the list is endless. And as much as the job of a teacher is fulfilling, it is also stressful and tear jerking. Sometimes being the bearer of that news in unavoidable. And there is no easy way to say it.

So be kind to teachers, they have pain too.

Redditor u/CTE2028 was hoping the educators reading would be willing to share some stories by asking.... Teachers Of Reddit have you ever had to explain a students death if so what did you tell them?

3rd period

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A kid in one of my high school classes died in his sleep over Spring Break. Some sort of random heart failure.

They didn't make an announcement but word traveled pretty quickly because he was a prominent member of the cross-country team. Anyway, 3rd period rolled around and his best friend walked in smiling and laughing with someone. When the bell rang, she asked someone near her where her friend was. We all heard and realized she didn't know yet. My poor 25-year old, fresh-out-of-college history teacher had to pull her aside to tell her that her best friend was dead. She ran out of the room crying and he looked sick to his stomach. Then he had to teach our class.


The Worst Day

I was a long term sub for a middle school band teacher out on pregnancy leave. Two weeks in, the Principal let me know first thing in the morning that the teacher I was subbing for had lost her child and I should let each class know. The students were close to the teacher and they should know he said. This was 25 years ago, so no internet. I was fresh out of college and I suggested that perhaps he should do it or maybe even a counselor.

He let me know that everyone was too busy and if I had a problem I could quit. I was only a sub after all. So for the next six bells, I let each class know that sometimes life doesn't go as you hope and that parents can lose a child before they are even born. It did not get easier as the day went on.

It is still the worst day of education in my entire career.


Caleb & Alexa

A couple years ago one of our Pre-K students had a little sister die from a congenital heart defect. We live in a small area and all the kids knew her because we had had a bunch of fundraisers and the student talked about his sister often. When she died we felt very unprepared to talk to the kids about why Caleb wouldn't be at school and what had happened to his sister. My co-teacher bought a book to read them (can't remember the title now). We were all crying when we talked to the kids, but trying to stay calm. We explained how it was okay to be sad, that Caleb would be sad when he came back to school.

We told them it was ok to ask about Alexa but Caleb may not want to talk much about her and that was ok. I remember specifically my co teacher saying "I know we all prayed for Alexa. And God did give her a new heart, but she had to go to heaven to get it." One of the absolute hardest days in my life. The kids were very sweet and understood way more than we thought they would.


Sweet Girl

At the school my mom works at, a 3rd grader died from a glioblastoma. She was really well known in the area; her parents did an amazing job bringing awareness about this particular form of cancer, and they did a lot of fundraisers for her treatment/travel expenses. My mom works with kindergarteners, and her students didn't really know how to react regarding the death. My mom and the other teacher (my mom is a paraprofessional) decided to mention it, and if anybody wanted to talk about they would (and they did).


Don't Ask

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My mom died when I was in the 5th grade.

I knew the teachers told everyone before I came back to school because they all treated me like I was going to explode. When a friend finally asked me a question about my mom, another student said that the teacher told them not to say anything to me about it. It left me feeling like I couldn't share my grief or my memories of my mom with my school friends.


In Shock

Not a teacher, but we had a student in one of my smaller university classes pass away unexpectedly one day. The teacher came into class looking clearly upset and simply told us what had happened. We all just sat there and took a few minutes to soak the news in. I'm pretty sure we wrote some condolences to their family at one point. No one could really believe it. They were really outgoing and had a good rapport with everyone, so the whole dynamic of the class felt a little off after that. It felt so strange seeing that one desk remain empty for the rest of the semester.


Teachers need more love in this world.....

Not a teacher but had a fellow student die in middle school on Mother's Day. It was very hard for my teacher to explain, because it was an accident, she was hit by a car while at the beach with her mom. I remember the teacher crying and giving us all time to process, but I think she did the best she could do in that situation. I can't imagine how teachers deal with this sort of thing. Teachers need more love in this world.


After the Bliss....

I didn't have to explain it, but I did have a student die.

It was a week after "remote learning" had ended for the school year this June. It was basically ungraded remote learning, meaning only a small percentage of students actually logged in. I can't say I would have done much work when I was in middle school and knew it was ungraded. This particular student never did any of the online work.

I got a call literally on my wedding day from my principal. The ceremony was over, and I was having a meal with my parents and new husband. The principal explained to me that the student had passed away in a car crash the day before. Apparently, someone took a video of the aftermath, and some of the kid's severed body parts were visible. My principal told me to watch out for any students grieving or mentions of the video (never heard anything). It was an odd conversation, as after talking about a student who had died, my principal then congratulated me on getting married.



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I had a girl die in my Spanish class in HS that I was somewhat friends with. Very sad... went missing one day and was found about 3 days later in the back of a burned vehicle.

It was awful because we had a clock with 12 hours each hour representing a partner to practice with. Jasmine was on my clock. Every day someone didn't have a partner on that clock because one of us was murdered... and this was in a small town where that evil doesn't happen. First person I ever somewhat knew that passed, all because a boyfriend and a different girl got in some stupid dispute and then decided to kill her...

Our teacher didn't exactly handle it well though to answer the question. It was a very difficult time for the whole school.


Could've done better....

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Same. Watched my girlfriend's little sister die in a car accident with her family. Threw up for days after. So sad. Got a "you shouldn't have missed class" from my professor for missing class that day, when he knew what had happened, and an "I don't care what happened". He apologized for being hard on me for that a few weeks later, but still...

Also someone I sat next to in high school died in a car accident the night before class. A high school counselor came in and said one of our classmates had died. Didn't say who. My good friend was out that day in that class, as well as about 5 others. Didn't know who it was until the bell rang and finally found someone that knew and everything went on as normal. Handled so poorly.


In Costume

Oh my god. I actually left teaching for a year to do administrative work at the end of the year when this happened. We had a particularly beloved junior in high school who was murdered by a family member. The event was so shocking it was all over the news about as fast as the school learned about the event. It happened on a Tuesday night, we learned about it Wednesday night via email, and there was a school announcement the next day over loudspeaker.

When students asked what happened, one student pulled out his phone and showed a news article around to several students in the class. The class was so horrified, they asked if we could pause the day, and then there was forty minutes of sniffling and crying and I think that was the worst classroom experience I've ever had.

Several students who didn't even know the guy who died couldn't stop themselves from crying because of recent deaths in their own family.

To top it all off, it was during spirit week and many student had shown up in costume, and they slowly started to take off distracting pieces, and asked around for jackets or something to cover up their attention grabbing outfits. I would wish that experience on no one.


The Twins


I had twin brothers. Both missed school for a while. One returned with a note from his aunt. She wrote that their parents didn't write the note because they were in their country of origin because of the brother's death.

I interpreted that as the uncle (the parents' brother). Instead, the family had visited their home country, and one of the brothers died.

The surviving twin came back to school, but the parents were mourning and taking care of the dead twin's funeral.

When I eventually figured out my mistake, I notified the counselor. A week later, because the school moves slowly, one of the wellness counselors came to my room to announce the dead twin's death to the class. I hope to never have to do that again.


She was young....

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Not a teacher. In Grade 1 a girl died at our school. I remember our teachers being very sad.

She was always sick and very tiny. On her last birthday she brought lots of nice stuff for us cake, junk food and we had so much fun. I remember these meringue thingies with different colors. Apparently she died of HIV. It was the late 90's. I don't remember what we were told exactly just that she wouldn't see her again.



Not a teacher but I've had several situations like this.

Elementary school teacher was killed in a car accident on her way to school. She was my older sister's teacher. Small school in southern Oklahoma, so they brought each grade to the auditorium one at a time to give us the news. Counselors were available. Handled very well by an otherwise fairly crappy school.

In high school, my senior year. First period, the principal comes in, which is exceedingly rare, and tells us a classmate had passed away. He and I were practically inseparable in middle school, but had grown apart in high school. Barely saw each other or spoke. He had dropped by my house a few days before and I basically told him I was too busy to talk to him and sent him on his way. I carry a lot of guilt over that. Never found out 100% what happened, as the rumor mill started immediately, but I believe it was suicide. Tearing up just thinking about it. Janusz, I'm sorry man.


Only 21

I have taught for 18 years and fingers crossed, have never lost a "current" student (I teach music so I get my kids for 8 years). I have, however, lost two former students. One to a motorcycle accident, and my favorite student I have ever had killed himself two days after my youngest child was born.

He was only 21. I still think about him all the time, and it has been 9 years. Smart, creative, funny. Not a chance I wouldn't have been absolutely broken if I had to explain it to other kids. I am so sorry for you teachers who have had to.


Awful Response

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A girl killed herself my sophomore year and they just sent a mass email to the teachers so they could tell us.

I was in math at the time and my teacher just told us what happened then said we shouldn't let it get in the way of our lesson and kept teaching. Messed up thing is she was in his seminar which in our school was where a group of students is assigned to a teacher freshmen year through senior year and he just could not have cared less.


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

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