The Truth About Elementary School Graduation

It’s official. My daughter has graduated from elementary school and will move on to middle school in the fall. The hoopla is over. The excitement, the thrill, the celebration….

The sadness. The marrow deep, incredibly-painful sadness.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. And I’ll be honest: the anticipation was worse than the actual events. Which, I suppose, is probably best. It allowed me (us) to enjoy what is supposed to be a joyful, celebratory moment in life.

But yeah, a week ago, I wasn’t feeling particularly celebratory, and neither was the almost-middle schooler. For obvious, and maybe not so obvious reasons.

On the surface, it’s scary, right? Leaving the security of elementary school, all the teachers and the principal and the friends you’ve known for practically your whole life. Because even though most of you are probably going to the same school next year, it’s a big, giant school and the likelihood of you all being in the same classes—or even the same lunch period—are pretty damn slim.

It’s something new, something different. Growing up. Changing classes every fifty-five minutes. Puberty. Crushes. Fitting in. Caring about what you wear—what others wear or do or say. It’s a whole new world.

Yeah, on the surface, the transition from elementary school is huge, and scary, and exciting and so many conflicting emotions all wrapped up in an utterly un-tidy bundle.

And that’s for the “typical” elementary school graduate.

Now, let’s add the fact that your older brother passed away three months ago. And said older brother was in middle school. And you’ve lived in his shadow for your entire life, which, frankly, you were okay with, because you knew no different. In fact, you kinda liked not being in the spotlight.

And let’s add to that the fact that your parents panicked over your brother’s death and enrolled you in an entirely different school from the one he had been attending—the one you expected to go to—the one “all” your friends are attending.

And let’s layer that with your own grief, and the fact that you are not even remotely over your brother’s death—not that you ever will be—but you haven’t fully grieved, haven’t fully accepted the fact that he’s gone, really, truly, forever gone. And now you have no one’s shadow to hide in, and now you are the center of attention. Everyone’s paying attention to you, watching your every move, analyzing, agonizing, worrying, stressing—and telling you how awesome and amazing you are for the way you’ve “dealt with” your tragic loss.

So now you feel like you have to be perfect, and not cry, and not act out, and not… be yourself. Because suddenly you don’t even know who the hell you are, because you’ve lost an incredibly important aspect of you, and you have no idea how to deal or fix or move on or whatever the hell you’re supposed to do when someone you hold dear dies.

Yeah, that transition from elementary school to middle school sucks, doesn’t it?



Tami Lund Headshot 2014


Tami Lund writes romance, drinks wine, and occasionally writes emotionally-stark blog posts.

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