I saw this article this morning on high schools creating grieving gardens for students who have died.
Such “grieving gardens” are springing up at high schools across the country as students seek closure and administrators grapple with how best to honor dead youths. Born of tragedy, the main force behind the gardens has been students and grieving parents.
The article goes on to say that some schools have chosen not to have such gardens on the grounds that it might spark some kids to consider suicide.
A friend of mine commited suicide in high school. We did not have a grieving garden, but we asked if we could include a memorial to him in the yearbook. The administration refused, saying that they didn’t want to glorify suicide. While now, years later, I can understand their view, at the time it was like a slap in the face. It seemed that his death meant nothing to the school. Counselors were sent to the American Studies class where they announced his death to the school.
He was a couple years younger than me, so I heard about it in my interior design class. When they first read the announcement that a student had died, I though immediately of my friend Jen, who was in the hospital at the time. When they announced a different name, I was elated, because it wasn’t my best friend. Then the name sunk in. It was Mike. Mike who I had tried to ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance, but chickened out at the last moment.
That one day, with counselors in his American Studies class, seemed to be the only acknowledgement that the administration would make of his death. To a high schooler, dealing with the death of someone their own age for the first time, this really served only to make the process more difficult.
A few of us did get poems about Mike in that year’s literary magazine, so there was some evidence that we lost one of our own that year. (Sadly, my poem was really, really bad — read: teen angst in its worst form.)