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22 Feb

Nearly sixteen years ago, I started teaching high school students at the beginning of their second semester. Little did I realize that I would have such a tough time for the first few months!  Students acted out in class, disrupted lesson plans, failed to do assignments, and followed a fellow student leader clearly down the wrong path exhibiting improper behavior and lack of respect for me.  

It wasn’t until several weeks into this classroom chaos that I used my medical knowledge and realized these students were exhibiting a form of grief for their former teacher whom they loved and respected. It was clear to me that the first two of five stages of grief, denial and anger (as identified by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying,) entered my classroom each day within a small group of students, yet negatively affected the entire class.  Determining that, I knew that only time, inner strength and persistent leadership on my part would eventually carry us all through the remaining stages; bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

As for inner strength, I knew I needed to have inner peace. So I will share with you the practice I have used for many years, even prior to that eleven year teaching job, and yet still use today.  And that is to walk each day to fill my senses with the beauty of nature all around me.  It reminds me of the words to the John Denver tune, Annie’s Song. “You fill up my senses, Like a night in a forest, Like the mountains of springtime, Like a walk in the rain, Like a storm in the dessert, Like a sleepy blue ocean, You fill up my senses, Come fill me again.”

It’s sort of ironic to me that, same as in the five stages of grief, there are also five different senses; sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Today’s walk outside in fact filled me up again as morning walks have for many years.  The sight of a pair of geese carving a gentle wave behind them as they paddled down a mirrored meandering creek; the smell of bacon cooking on an outdoor grill along the walking path; the sound of several red-winged blackbirds near the pond while several flocks of Sandhill cranes trumpeted overhead; the touch of my walking stick securely carried in my right hand in case I stumble and the warmth of the sun on my back; and finally, the taste of the bacon cooking as I passed by. 

My point is that I am a firm believer that with a daily dose of inner strength and inner peace, we can get through anything. It worked for me back in that classroom and it continues to work for me each day. 

In my humble opinion, I think our nation needs a daily dose of inner strength and peace. It appears to me that at least 50% of the people in the United States are going through the first couple stages of grief due to the outcome of the election…denial and anger.  Many seem to be mourning both the loss of our previous President as well as the loss of their favorite candidate for the new President. Yet, I hope that with time, every citizen will attain inner peace and move on through the remaining stages of grief.  When that day finally arrives, I believe America will truly be great again!

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Gramma Golden

Gramma Golden