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Cox lives by hope and healing

SAT. | 04-30-22 | FEATURES

     The loss of a loved one can be unbearable, but having hope and optimism can make the process easier. A year and a half ago, Advanced Placement and Honors Chemistry teacher Jerri Lynn Cox lost her husband, Frank Cox, to cancer. Frank battled his cancer for 10 years before passing, leaving Jerri Lynn to find a place of hope and healing. 

     “My purpose was taking care of [Frank],” Cox said. “My students all became my whole purpose after him.”

     Cox and her husband were married for 17 years and she aided him every day throughout his battle with cancer. They helped each other overcome all the obstacles that came with the process and with life.

     “We really loved each other,” Cox said. “He did everything he could to prepare me for it, but it's hard to let someone go.”

     After her husband’s passing, all Cox could do was keep herself busy and surround herself with the people she loved and found support from. 

     “It was good for me at the time to not dwell on it,” Cox said. “There’s a reason people have said, ‘The passage of time makes things easier to deal with’.”

     Cox spent time at the beach to clear her head and worked summer school sessions to keep herself busy and engaged with others before the upcoming school year.

     “Teachers here have kept me going and have been

Ms. Cox picture.jpg

Photo by Riley Harris

my family too,” Cox said. “I told all the [male teachers] down the science hall that they all have to be my husband now when I need help, and they said, ‘We’re there, we’re there’.”

     Cox not only found her hope in the friends and colleagues she surrounds herself with, but also in the students she teaches. 

     “I have always been an open book with my students and extremely honest in what I experience,” Cox said. “I do that because my students need to see what real life is.”

     Cox’s honesty with her students has created a safe space for students to talk to her about their experiences with cancer, whether it’s a family member or their own experience.

     “I can’t imagine a child going through that, [and] I can’t imagine a parent with their child dealing with that,” Cox said.

     Students sharing their own experiences with Cox really helped her to deal with her own grief, and she hopes that sharing really helped students deal with theirs. Most of Cox’s students showed a lot of compassion towards her during those tough times, which helped her tremendously in keeping her hope.

     “I have a student family and they have helped me realize who is really there for me, especially when I was going through the bottom of things,” Cox said.

     Cox hopes that by sharing her and her husband’s story with students, it will help them with their own loss and grief they might be experiencing and open up a line of communication for them to talk to someone.

     “My advice to students experiencing loss [is] don’t be by yourself too much; it’s easy to get depressed,” Cox said. “Find somebody you can talk to; find someone you can trust to not pass judgment.”

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