Coping with the Loss of a Mentee to Street Violence

Losing a mentee to street violence is an incredibly difficult experience, and I wouldn't wish the loss on anybody. I have lost two mentees, 2 family friends and 2 neighbours to street violence. All were under the age of 19.

As mentors, we are responsible for helping young people stay safe and make good choices, but unfortunately, violence is sometimes unavoidable in today’s world. This post will provide guidance on how to cope with the loss of a mentee due to street violence.

Express Your Feelings
It’s important that you take the time to process your emotions when dealing with the loss of a mentee. While it may be tempting to avoid thinking about it or try to push down your feelings, it’s important that you take the time to acknowledge your pain and express your feelings in healthy ways. Writing in a journal or talking to family members or friends can help you work through any difficult emotions that come up during this difficult time. Additionally, if you need extra support, consider reaching out for professional help from a therapist or counsellor.

Get Counselling 
Mentoring is a rewarding journey, but it can be challenging. Seeking counselling to help you navigate your mentoring practice is an excellent way to gain support and insight into yourself and others. Counselling sessions can provide the tools and resources to develop healthier relationships with those in your mentoring program. Additionally, many counsellors also offer training on topics such as communication, problem-solving, self-care, stress management, and goal setting. If you feel that your mentorship practice could benefit from professional guidance, consider seeking out a qualified counsellor or treatment provider today.

Honour Your Mentee’s Memory
One way to cope with the death of a mentee is by honouring their memory in some way. Whether it’s organising an event in their honour or writing a tribute piece, there are many ways that you can remember and pay homage to them. It will also be helpful for other loved ones who are grieving as well. You could even start a scholarship fund in their name at their school or college so they can continue to have an influence on other students’ lives even after they have passed away.

Stay Connected With Other Mentors
Losing a mentee can be especially difficult for mentors because we often become deeply connected and invested in our mentees' lives and futures. That connection doesn't just disappear once they pass away—it's important that we find ways to process our grief and stay connected with other mentors who are also dealing with similar losses. Consider joining the NYA or The Mentoring Lab, or other mentor communities, where mentors can share stories about their mentees and support each other during this difficult time.
Gone by not forgotten
Losing someone close is never easy, but it's especially hard when it's someone you've been teaching and guiding for some time—like when losing a mentee due to street violence happens. It's okay if things don't seem okay right away; healing takes time, sometimes years, with everyone responding differently after experiencing such tragedy. It's important that as mentors we take care of ourselves so we can best serve those around us—including our fallen mentees whose memories live on forever in our hearts and minds.
If you suspect your mentee is being groomed, escalate your concerns to your Designated Safeguarding Lead immediately. Listen to what they say about how to approach the situation, you could even contact St. Giles Trust, experts in supporting young people engaged in gangs. Offer support and don't make assumptions or judgments. It's important to stay open-minded if your mentee reveals anything concerning.
If they share details of who they are speaking to online or in person, report this information to your Designated Safeguarding Lead, who would have been trained to call the police. Don't fear and Don't delay; sharing your concerns or conversations is your professional duty and can protect not only your mentee but potentially other children too. Make sure your mentee knows it’s ok to come to talk about their experiences with you - it’s essential that they have a trustworthy support system in place during difficult times; this is also when they are most at risk.
Keep an open dialogue with your child and set boundaries that allow them to reach out if they feel uncomfortable. Communicate the message that no one has the right to ask them to keep secrets and that it's ok to reach out if they have concerns. Reassure them that despite circumstances you are always there as their mentor to talk about any issue.

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