Steamboat Springs 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.