A lesson plan to go with: “I’ll always remember Shiri” by Fred Scarf, published September 2006

By Managing Editor Libby Hartigan

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Health
Suggested Time Allowance: 45 minutes-1 hour

Overview of Lesson Plan: In this lesson, students will explore ways of surviving loss and grief.

Students will:
• Discuss how friends and family are affected by someone’s death.
• Discuss various ways to cope with loss and grief.
• Discuss ways to help others cope with loss and grief, and specifically, with the death of a friend.
• Use writing, or other creative methods, as a vehicle for coping and remembrance.

• copies of “I’ll always remember Shiri” (one per student)
• pens/pencils
• paper
• classroom whiteboard or blackboard

1. Warm-up: In journals or on separate pieces of paper, students respond to the following prompts written on the board: “The time I felt the saddest was …” or “The greatest loss my family has ever suffered was …”
2. As a class, read “I’ll always remember Shiri.” Then discuss the article, addressing these questions (possible answers are listed)
a. How did Fred meet Shiri?
–They were students at the same school
–They met during study hall.
b. Why did they become good friends (was it because she was sick)?
–Fred was outgoing and friendly
–Shiri had a good sense of humor
–He didn’t treat her like a “patient”
–They had fun (like going to the movies)
c. How did Fred cope with the knowledge that Shiri was getting sicker?
–He tried to stay hopeful
–He didn’t dwell too much on her medical problems
–He stayed friends with her and found new ways to have fun (like her birthday party)
d. What are Fred’s main memories of Shiri?
–pushing her in her wheelchair and pretending to steer her into walls
–going to Universal Studios
–she was kooky and mischievous
–her 16th birthday party
–Celebrations, like Christmas Eve and 4th of July
e. Did they like each other as more than friends? Why or why not?
–friends called them “lovebirds” and told Fred to kiss her
–Before she died she said she was ready for that kiss, and Fred wasn’t surprised because he thought she had a crush on him
–They joked about going on a date
–But during their friendship they weren’t actually going out, and often did things with friends and family
f. How did Fred react after Shiri died?
–He cried at home
–He found it hard to believe and accept.
–He wished he had a chance to say good-bye
–He agreed to speak at her funeral

Dealing with grief. The following questions could serve for further discussion or homework. Students could write an essay describing methods they would use to help themselves, family members, or others cope with a loss and subsequent grief. They could draw on their own experience or on what was discussed in class.

1. Do you think that writing this article has been part of Fred’s healing process? How could writing help someone who is grieving?

2. How would you compare the death of a friend your own age to the death of an adult (such as a grandparent)? How might those losses affect a teenager differently?

3. What are some of the different ways people deal with grief and loss?

4. What kinds of losses, other than death, can cause you to grieve? Can a divorce, or the end of a friendship, or moving away from home make you feel a loss as deeply as a death? How might you deal with these different kinds of losses?

Students will be evaluated on their participation in discussion and their individual written work.

Extension Activities:
• Design a peer-mediated grief counseling program for your school and/or community. Bring in outside facilitators or use outside materials to train students in peer counseling methods.

• Shiri’s death inspired Fred to start a nonprofit group to raise money to fight the cancer which killed her. As a class or in smaller groups, research young people whose deaths have inspired their loved ones to start charitable organizations which address the disease or issue that resulted in their deaths. Make presentations or reports to the class on each organization.