To the class of 2020 — whether it’s high school, preschool, college, or whatever — you are getting a bad deal here. COVID-19 has taken away a lot, and now, it’s taking away the end of your final year. And it’s not fair. But because I teach high school, this post is mostly for you seniors — and your mamas.
First, seniors, don’t let anyone try to minimize your sadness.
You’re allowed to mourn the loss of your senior year. Don’t let anyone try to belittle you for being upset about prom being canceled. Don’t let anyone try to make your hurt seem less because they also hurt during their final year of high school, or anytime in their lives. You are allowed to be sad about this. It’s a sad thing, and pretending it’s not is unfair to you.
Second, be wary of anger.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry. You have every right to be angry about what is happening right now. But be wary of who you direct that anger toward, and for how long you allow that anger to remain with you. Anger is a tricky emotion. Sometimes it covers sorrow. Sometimes it stays longer than it should. Sometimes it leads to a dark place that is difficult to leave. Sometimes anger causes you to lash out at the people who care for you most. Feel your anger, but then let it go. Look for the silver linings. Look for the good all around you. It’s there — I promise.
Third, be proactive.
If this is all too much, if you find yourself isolating, if you’re more anxious or sad or irritable than usual, reach out for help. Being stuck at home is no picnic, especially when there are fewer and fewer outlets available. There are, however, always resources, if you know where to look. Your high school guidance counselor or school psychologist is an email or Zoom chat away. Your primary care doctor is another option. Or, if you have a history with a mental health counselor, turn to them. It’s important to remember that while COVID-19 is scary and dangerous, there are other health issues that need attending, and your mental health is of the utmost importance. With telehealth both available and covered by insurances in Massachusetts right now, you are able to get access to great medical care from the comfort and safety of your home. Please, be proactive, and get help if you need it.
This is for the moms of graduates. As moms, we play an important role. As an educator and a mom, I get to play both roles, so I present you with this reminder: This is it. This is our time to shine. As the seasoned adults in this situation, we moms have to be as level-headed as possible. We have to show them how to mourn. This is your time to be sad and angry alongside your child, and then to help them let it go, because unfortunately, this is bigger than a high school graduation. COVID-19 doesn’t care that you want to celebrate. It wants you in the hospital, on a ventilator.
Moms, this is your time to recognize that there is a lot going on behind the scenes to celebrate you and your graduates, whether it’s lawn signs, virtual presentations, late summer graduation plans, yearbooks, gifts, postcards, letters, and whatever else a building’s worth of adults (who are stuck at home, and who love your children) are racking their brains to develop. We know you love your kids and you want to celebrate them. We love them too.
I don’t know what the future holds. I do know I would love to celebrate these graduates the best way we can right now, even if that means a video commemorating their accomplishments. Once this passes, and I’m hopeful it will, we can return to our in-person celebrations and remember this as a time in history when we came together by staying apart.