Photography lesson

Lesson of the day: “While families mourn, grandparents intervene”

Featured Article: “As Families Grieve, Grandparents Step In”, by Paula Span with photographs by Todd Heisler

In the United States, no less than 200,000 children have had a parent who died of Covid-19. Following these losses, other family members – often grandparents – frequently step in to support grieving children.

In this lesson, you will learn how grandparents and grandchildren navigate new relationships after the death of a family member. Then you’ll watch a film about a bereavement camp for young people or write a short story about your relationship with your grandparent or another senior in your life.

Analyze statistics on Covid-19 deaths.

Explore the New York Times tracker of Covid-19 cases and deaths. What do you notice about the cases nationally and internationally? What about death rates?

Then look at rates specifically in your state or region. How do Covid-19 deaths in your area compare to the rest of the country or the world? Are you surprised by these statistics? Why or why not?

Read the article or listen to the 15-minute embedded audio. Then answer the following questions:

1. How have Covid-19 deaths affected relationships between some grandparents and their grandchildren?

2. Choose a quote from the article that illustrates a positive aspect of this change.

3. Choose a quote that illustrates the challenges and stresses that can come from new relationships.

4. What story do the photographs in this article tell? If you had to explain the main idea, or a main theme, of the article using only three photographs, which would you choose? Why?

5. What forms of support do the youth in the article and their grandparents have to cope with grief and navigate their changing relationships?

6. What is your reaction to the article? What have you learned? Were you able to identify with any of the stories or experiences documented in the article?

Option 1: Consider your relationship with a grandparent or elder.

Do any of the grandparent-grandchild relationships remind you of your relationship with your grandparents or another elder in your community?

We recently asked students to respond to “Constancy in Candy,” which a reader submitted to the Tiny Love Stories column. In this short story, Samantha Facciolo writes about her grandmother:

My grandmother kept a bowl of candy on a table by her front door. Growing up, I sneaked in butterscotch and strawberry candies. During the pandemic, my grandmother moved into an assisted living facility. During my first post-lockdown visit, I saw what part of her 90-year-old life she had given up to fit into her new residence. Yet she had saved the familiar bowl. When I got home, I discovered that she had slipped her candy into my purse. Years before, when I had confessed my childhood theft, she had laughed. “Why do you think I kept it on that coffee table? It’s always been for you.

  • Do you have or have you had a close relationship with a grandparent or elder? What is, or was, your relationship?

  • What is an object, like the bowl of candy belonging to Mrs. Facciolo’s grandmother, that reminds you of this person?

Now write a story of no more than 100 words about a grandparent or elder who has been in your life. Post it in the comments or submit it to Tiny Love Stories.

Option 2: Learn about grief and youth.

Watch this movie club about a camp for kids and teens who have lost someone important. As you watch, think about how this film might connect with the stories of the young people you heard about in the featured article. You can also use our Film Club Double Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments from the film.

After viewing the film, answer the following questions in your journal or in a class discussion. Or share your answers in the comments section of the film club.

  • What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?

  • What is the relationship between the film and the article you read above? What was similar? What was different?

Want more daily lessons? You can find them all here.