This week, I got phone calls from two teachers who had been through my life coaching and professional development programs, where I told a story about another teacher. Each of them told me, “Ronit, I did it! The whole funeral, it was fantastic!”
After the first call, I was very happy, and since I am not a strong believer in coincidence, I said to myself that the universe was trying to tell me something after the second call. Translating from “universe” language to “Ronit” language, this meant I needed to write about that funeral – one of the most wonderful funerals everyone should take part in.
The “I Can’t” funeral
Donna’s class looked like any other class. The students sat in rows and the teachers’ desk was at the front. On the walls were hung the kids’ projects and works of art. The kids were very excited. “Today is the funeral day”, they said to each other in excitement.
The kids started writing their thoughts and ideas on sheets of paper. All their sentences started with “I can’t”. A ten year old girl wrote, “I can’t make friends”, “I can’t play soccer very well”, “I can’t play the violin” and “I can’t make my mom happy”. Her page was already full of such statements, but she was determined to fill up the whole page.
All the other kids wrote similar things they could not do – “I can’t go to sleep on time”, “I can’t concentrate in class”, “I can’t stop talking in the middle of the lesson” and “I can’t draw well”.
Donna, their teacher, was sitting in her chair, writing her own “I Can’t” statements. She wrote, “I can’t get up on time in the morning”, “I can’t find a way to help my daughter with her math homework”, “I can’t convince my husband to take 2 months off to travel” and many more.
All these statements put on paper were full of negativity. Some kids managed to fill more than one page of depressing, discouraging thoughts. Where was this going?
After a few minutes, kids started approaching the teacher’s desk, where there was an empty shoe box. The kids folded their sheets of paper and put them inside the shoe box. As the last student added her paper, Donna covered the box and left the class with all the kids following close behind.
Donna stopped at the janitor’s room and took a shovel. With the shovel in one hand and the shoe box in the other, followed by the large group of her 10-year-old students, Donna walked to the far side of the school play ground.
In the corner of the school yard, she started digging a hole. The kids then took over and helped make the hole deeper and bigger. Everyone was very quiet and determined. When the hole was deep enough, Donna gave the box to one of the students and asked her to gently put it at the bottom of the hole. Each child, in turn, helped cover the box with dirt.
A class of 10-year-old kids stood in front of the fresh grave. Each of them had buried something. Donna looked at them and asked them to hold hands and lower their heads in respect. The kids stood in a circle, holding hands, and Donna gave a eulogy.
“Dear friends, we are gathered here today in memory of ‘I can’t’. It touched all of our lives. To some, it was closer, to others less so, but it was mentioned every day by all the people on Earth – kids, adults, even leaders. We hope its brothers and sisters, ‘I Can’, ‘I will’ and ‘I’m able’, who are less famous and not as strong as ‘I can’t’, will make us stronger. They will, with your help, be a big part of our life from now on. May ‘I can’t’ rest in peace and may we live in peace without it. Amen!”
Without looking back, the group of kids and their teacher returned the shovel and went back to class, where they decorated a big cardboard tomb with the date and the words “May Can’t rest in peace” and hung it on the wall. As they finished their art work, they had a great big celebration with food, balloons and games. For those kids, it was the best funeral they would ever attend.
For the rest of the year, whenever any of the kids said they “can’t” do something, the other kids pointed to the tomb hanging on the wall. It was a reminder for everyone that “I Can’t” was no longer an option and there was always a way to get things done with positive thinking.
Original version by Phillip B. Childs
Two teachers, one a primary school teacher and the other a high school teacher, each took a group of students to the far corner of their own schools and had the most uplifting funeral of their lives.
I am sure your can find a far corner in your house and I wish you a wonderful funeral. May your home be positive and full of action forever.
Join me on Friday and I will tell you about another funeral I had with the very same high school teacher on my balcony.