“Always build people up. Never tear people down. Be kind.”
June 15, 2013 8:52 PM   Subscribe

'Loss is difficult at any time of life. It can be particularly difficult for teenagers, who are still navigating their way, sometimes clumsily, toward adulthood. They know they need help, but are sometimes reluctant to ask for it. And often, because of their youth, their loss may be the first death they have ever known.' For a year, a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer sat in on meetings of a grief group at Archbishop Moeller high school, for boys who had lost a parent... and learned The Rules of Grieving.
posted by zarq (27 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
The Enquirer limits online access to 20 articles a month for non-members. If the main link doesn't work, the school has archived a copy of the article on their website.

The newspaper also has posted a short video that speaks about how members of the community are reacting to the story.
posted by zarq at 8:53 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is pretty amazing. Thank you for this. Grief is one of tthose weird things that is everything all rolled up into one thing. Not 'one' thing. 'A' thing. Eh, I can't really say it in words.
posted by janey47 at 9:28 PM on June 15, 2013

That's a really moving piece. Thanks for that.
posted by Xany at 9:41 PM on June 15, 2013

It's going to take me several sessions to get through the article, due to sudden-onset blurred vision and wet-face syndrome that keep cropping up, but thank you for this post.
posted by librarina at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was a lovely and thoughtful article. Thank you so much for posting it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:08 PM on June 15, 2013

Wow. I wonder if the article will help Philip attend for his senior year.
posted by jacalata at 10:50 PM on June 15, 2013

I can't find the link to the follow up video, but yes, someone came forward and is paying Philip's tuition.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 11:20 PM on June 15, 2013 [7 favorites]

Death is an evil bastard. (I miss you, dad.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:36 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh how different my life would have been with something like this when I was 13. Losing my Dad was hard enough, losing my brother 6 weeks later was devastating. Like the adults (teachers) who participated, I too still miss my beloved ones decades on. Why on earth people think that kids "will get over it" - where the fuck does that piece of self-serving shit come from?

We need to have real and open dicusssions about death, dying and grieving. Anytime I meet a teenager who has lost a loved one, especially a parent or sibling, I really take the time to try to connect with them to let them know that anything they feel is ok; that others have been there too. And each time I do, it helps the memory of the grieving teenager I once was.

This was a good read, despite the waterfall I read it through. For anyone going through the raw process now, I feel for you and hope you are able to find ears and hearts open to your grieving.
posted by Kerasia at 12:46 AM on June 16, 2013 [19 favorites]

“Every table in the world has four chairs, and we have to sit there, a family of three,” Chuck says. “You look at that chair and it feels like you are missing somebody.”

posted by mikelieman at 12:56 AM on June 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just rip my heart in half, why don't you? (Really: thank you for posting this.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:30 AM on June 16, 2013

The brotherhood of grief. Thank you so much for posting this, zarq.

For those who also had trouble getting through this article with dry eyes...hugs, guys.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:05 AM on June 16, 2013

Holy snot. Believe being bludgeoned betwixt the eyes by a baseball bat would have been less ... impactful. Powerful piece and post :)
posted by phoque at 5:06 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

What a set of conflicting emotions...pain for what those kids are going through, happiness that my young kids have their dad on this Father's Day and the remembered pain of losing my older brother when I was 12. I started crying as soon as I started reading and imagine I'll be tender and a bit weepy all day...it's good. Thank you.
posted by victoriab at 6:35 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

This was so beautifully written. It's vexing to me that so many people forget that kids are actual people, with real feelings. How can we expect them to "just get over it", when we ourselves can barely manage?

I'm so glad those kids have the support they need.
posted by MissySedai at 8:24 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

How great it is that those kids are getting the support they need. My own father died unexpectedly at Christmas my junior year in college. I could have used that kind of grief support myself. That program should be a model for other schools and universities.
posted by immlass at 9:25 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a former youth mentor, this story really touched me, because the right adults can make all the difference in a young person's life. I am so grateful that the opportunity is there for these boys. My grandfather died 53 years ago when my mom was 12. I actually just found the news story online that described his death (along with three other people - carbon monoxide poisoning) yesterday. I only know a handful of things about him because the slightest mention opens up such a world of hurt. I sent the article to my brother, who may or may not show it to Mom. I really wish these programs existed for Mom back then.
posted by Calzephyr at 10:12 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

This was a lovely, moving article. Thanks.
posted by ambrosia at 11:08 AM on June 16, 2013

That was not an easy read. I lost my dad over 30 years ago when I was 8. My mom did her best (which was fairly awesome), my grandfather told me I had to stop crying cause I was the man of the house now. (Kinda still have never forgiven that line completely. He wasn't a bad man, just hard New England stock.)

But, this, I wish this had been around when I was going through that. The math teacher's story struck me cause it's what I did. I'm still very closed and have no clue how not to be.

I also have to admit - I knew men were more likely to die young, but was floored at the difference in the statistics. Wow.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:40 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm really touched by the teachers who are willing to be openly vulnerable about their losses in front of the kids. That's a wonderful thing.
posted by bunderful at 11:49 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I lost my dad when I was 13 too, and couldn't talk about it--at all, to anyone--for years. I remember being at a doctor's office when they asked me my father's occupation and being frozen for what seemed like minutes, unable to answer. Something like this would have helped me immensely, if I had been brave enough to go. One thing that did help, years later, was this book.
posted by rodii at 12:40 PM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thank you for posting this, zarq. I am so grateful that the tides are turning and people are stepping forward so that young persons get real support for their grief.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I miss you always, and more every year. Today was hard.
posted by vers at 2:32 PM on June 16, 2013

Just echoing the others who have said that it is a good thing our society is starting to figure this out.

And rodii is right: even many years after the fact, that book helps. I lost my dad when I was 11, then my mom eighteen months later. When I was in my 40s I came across that book. It made a difference. Now when I meet other adults who have lost one or both parents when they were young, I always recommend it.

And for those who love those adults, it's a worthwhile read, as well, because it will explain a lot.

Thanks, zarq.
posted by Shadan7 at 3:06 PM on June 16, 2013

Thanks for that book link rodii.
posted by Kerasia at 5:42 PM on June 16, 2013

At every milestone in my life -- and on many very ordinary days, too -- I think about the friend I lost to suicide the summer before my senior year of high school. I would have benefitted from a venue like this then.

I haven't forgotten you, Tim. Today is father's day, and you'd be forty years old. I bet you would have been a very tender, patient, silly dad -- the dad I keep trying to be.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:41 PM on June 16, 2013

I lost my dad when I was 13 too, and couldn't talk about it--at all, to anyone--for years.

Mine died in an accident when I was 13, as well. I didn't talk about it with anyone but my therapist for twenty years. Because I was grateful that he was gone.

I'm jealous of you lucky bastards who had Dads worth missing.
posted by MissySedai at 11:29 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

My father died when I was four. I didn't fully begin to grieve until I was 24. I cannot think of a single part of my life that his death has not impacted. I am so glad groups like this exist and this reminds me that I should try to find a way to help other kids. Thanks for sharing this article!
posted by rachums at 7:21 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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