Teen Style: Talk about it

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— The loss of two Steamboat teenagers in the month of January came with many difficult issues to cope with for everyone in our community. Although I did not necessarily know them very well, I still felt the impact of their early deaths.

On Jan. 28, tragedy struck again, in my own family. My 3-year-old cousin, Ayden, died suddenly from the croup, a condition of the larynx or trachea characterized by a hoarse cough and difficulty breathing. I was in shock - croup was not supposed to be fatal, and a 3-year-old's life should not be taken.

I missed the next week of school to go to Winter Park for Ayden's celebration of life. Of course, my friends asked where I was. Once I told them, their responses were very limited. I had a lot of "I'm sorry," and not enough "Tell me about him." I could tell people were uncomfortable with the subject.

But I desperately wanted to talk to someone about it - I wanted to share my memories of Ayden.

The way he would run around in his Superman outfit.

The way he insisted you kiss him goodbye even though he had slobber all over his lips.

The fact that he could speak as well as his 6-year-old brother at age 3.

The way he said "I love you."

But death is a touchy subject, and no one wants to bring up painful memories to a grieving person.

It seems that in our society, death is the ultimate taboo topic. No one wants to talk about it at any old time because it is a depressing subject, and we don't want to jinx anything. We don't discuss it after a recent death, because the pain is too fresh.

So when are we supposed to talk about it?

We need to set up a better system to deal with grief and allow people to talk if they feel it helps them. Right now, there doesn't seem to be a good system for people to grieve. There seems to be pressure to just "get over it."

Sure, there are counselors and therapists, but personally, I would much rather talk to people I know and trust - friends and family - than to a stranger who I am paying to listen to my problems.

The main issue is that people simply do not know what to say to grieving people. Do they want to talk about it? Are they ready? What if they get mad? To avoid these possible hurdles, people tend to stay silent.

The solution to this problem, in my eyes, is to educate people about what to say and how to help reach out to others. Offer to talk about it. Who knows how many people are out there right now who are suffering in silence because they don't know how to ask for help?

By talking about the misfortunes that have occurred in our lives, we will be able to better help those in need.

Risk the possibility that the person might not want to discuss it. Odds are, he or she will be glad that someone has reached out and cared.

Comments

Sandra Sharp 6 years, 9 months ago

I am so sorry for your loss. Your writing is very heart felt.

I have a son that suffers from life threatening croup. He experiences the croup during hotel stays or shortly after a hotel stay. I am curious, had your cousin been in a hotel? Any information that you are able to share will be so appreciated.

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portagetheyampa 6 years, 9 months ago

Thank you, young person, for this very insightful article. You are certainly right on when you suggest people, especially young people, like yourself, need to talk about tragedy, particularly death. For someone your age, it is almost unfathonable to think about death, let alone begin to understand it.

And when it happens twice, in our small community to two well known and loved (high school student and recent grad) peers, it hits all young people very hard.

It would seem the public schools need to, as you suggest, provide opportunities to educate the students about death and how to express all those strong feelings that accompany loss.

Hopefully, love and support from within the family will encourage all young people to "reach out and care." You, the author of this excellent article, are the first. Hopefully, other brave and thoughtful young people will follow.

Again, thank you for your own sensitivity in writing this article.

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Josie Pacana 6 years, 9 months ago

skaysharp, As far as I know Ayden was not in a hotel room. He was in Denver over the weekend, and got sick on Sunday, January 27th. I think the sickness was just going around, and he went into a crowded area on the wrong weekend. I hope your son feels better. And thank you for your support, Josie

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barkingschedule 6 years, 9 months ago

Josie, Your article conveys such important information. Your courage in writing about your experience is an inspiration to us all. I will remember your words.

Ruffles

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justice4all 6 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for a wonderful article. I too,had conections to both of these young people either directly or through their families. I am very sad for the family and friends that have had such a tragic loss. I heard these words at a celebration of life service a long time ago and would like to share them with everyone.
"We sometimes have no warning that God is going to take our loved ones away from us and often we wonder why. But remember, God will never take away the wonderfull memories". Author unknown.

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