Bill Bryson is a travel writer. In his book ‘Down Under’ there is a lovely line where Bill is being given advice about how to avoid Australia’s venomous snakes while bushwalking. He is told “most snakes don’t want to hurt you, if you’re out of the bush and a snake comes along just stop dead let it slide over your shoes’. Bill describes this as “the least likely to be followed advice I had ever been given”.
The experts in coping with grief emphasise the benefits of returning to normality as quickly as possible following a tragedy. We could interpret this as similar to the advice given to Bill if we think it means ‘just go about your business and pretend that nothing happened’. But of course, it doesn’t. If it did then it would be right up there with ‘least likely to be followed advice’, because it is just not possible. When understood correctly, the advice is about the therapeutic value of routine and the comfort of returning to what we know and can control. This week we have been back in the virtual classroom with the soothing rhythm of the school day. Things will never be exactly as they were before but we will be ok.
There are no silver linings to the loss of a young life. It has however, been a privilege to watch the support that people in this remarkable community have provided for each other. In saying this I particularly note the support for each other from our young people. The College staff and leadership team have also felt enormously supported by the outpouring of appreciation, affirmation and support for the work we are doing with our students.
I would also like to acknowledge the exceptional support our community has received from other schools and community organisations. We have also welcomed the guidance provided by the panel of experts who make up the Geelong Youth Suicide Protocol Group in particular the staff from headspace.
We are a community of faith and at present, that faith is being sorely tested. In the face of grief and loss, it can be difficult to find God. In the last week, there have been many prayers for Jordan, his family, his friends, his community, and for us. I hope you might find some additional solace you the following poem called, I looked for God’s face.
I looked for God in darkness
I looked for God in daytime
I looked for God in the night
I saw the velvet blackness
I saw the clear bright sky
I saw the people’s faces
I saw them passing by
I saw them suffer asking why,
I saw them love and laugh and cry
I saw them live, I saw them die –
I saw God’s face.
Stay well and God Bless