I went to the funeral with another teacher who had the student earlier on. It was a first for both of us and I think it was good that we sort of had each other there for a little support, even though neither of us said much through the whole ordeal. The funeral was held at a mortuary right down the street from the high school. The entire service lasted about 45 minutes, and little was said by anyone except for the minister. Some songs were played that the student liked, and a poem was read by someone the student knew. Because of past events, the family didn't say anything. In the past three years, this is their second child to have died from tragic circumstances. I would say that I knew at least 60 of the people at the service, which ran easily over 300 people. I saw teachers, students, ex-students, coaches, and members of the community all gather in, what I would call, true mourning. At almost every funeral I've attended there is some sense of laughter or fond memories. This funeral was straight sadness. I couldn't see the family, as I was in overflow seating off to the side. I'm thankful for that, as the sobbing was making my heart hurt.
That wasn't the hardest part. Watching people you know, students and ex-students, grieving so hard was brutal. I watched happy-go-lucky people that I taught in so much pain that it was really hard being in attendance. Many times I watched people with iron clad constitutions break down because of the realization that the departed was gone. By the end of the whole ordeal, my teaching partner and I left with a sense of sorrow, and anger. Neither of us wanted to got to one of these ever again. We kept asking the question, "When are they going to figure it out?"
Unfortunately, I don't think it will be any time soon. Here is a response from a family member of the deceased in one of the local papers;
#### said alcohol was almost certainly involved. But she said she's skeptical about reports that some of the partiers, including her ######, may also have indulged in prescription pain pills.
``I know there's a lot of second-guessing going on around town, but I truly feel that if by chance drugs were involved it doesn't mean these guys were regular users,'' said #######.''
I'm really not trying to seem heartless in a time of sorrow, but doesn't those quote just slap you in the face? Vicodine and oxy-cotton are starting to run rampant around the teenage community, yet more and more parents are insisting that their children can't be partying to that degree. Even if it was only a one time thing, isn't that bad enough? Isn't it bad enough that a group of kids were drinking to the point of passing out?
In the end, the whole experience makes you realize that we can only do so much, and that society needs to focus, yet again, on developing a broader support structure for kids. Teachers alone, can't do it.