Monday, August 22, 2005
Yesterday, I posted an article on grieving over the loss of a loved one. The posting struck a chord with a law student who had experienced enormous losses during law school. With the writer's permission, I post the student's letter . . .
My name is ______, and I will soon graduate from _____ Law School. Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with grieving in law school. My mother died from a rare disease on my second day of orientation, and my father died 7 months later from cancer. The word "difficult" obviously does not adequately describe that time for me.
I found it helpful that the school immediately expressed sympathy and support. During that first meeting, the administration also clearly explained my options. Because I wanted (needed) to be in (city) with my father while he was in hospice at home, it meant I necessarily had to miss some classes. The administration let me know that if I missed more than a certain number of classes, it would be up to each individual professor as to whether I would be allowed to sit for the final in that class. While this caused me concern, I let it go almost immediately because I realized my first semester of school would either be a wash and I would have to reapply or I would make it through somehow. The school's position was clear, so I didn't have to worry about it and could concentrate on being with my family.
I made it through that time, though I didn't do as well as I felt I could have. But I was able to grieve and say goodbye, and that was the most important thing. The rigors of academics and my parents' strong desire that I finish law school helped me to get on with life. I anticipate a second form of grief to accompany my unwinding after I take the bar in February. I actually look forward to that time.
I'm not sure how many schools have an internal policy on how to deal with grieving students, but from my perspective it should be required. A carefully considered procedure can make all the difference for a student during this kind of tough experience. We have enough to deal with, and the administration has a duty to make that time easier, rather than inadvertently causing more anxiety.
A Law Student