Dear Cousin Butchie,
I am very sad most of the time, and I feel guilty about my inability to snap back since my mother passed away six months ago. I am 16 years old, and I fear how my friends might react if I told them the truth. Speaking a lot about this to my dad scares me. He is having a tough time himself, and I don't want to add to his grief. The advice from Mom's friends has made me more unhappy. I've been told that it is God's will, and that God needed her more that my family did, and that God only takes the young who are His favorites. I just don't find any of this helpful.
I hope I make sense.
Signed: Almost an Orphan
Please believe me when I say that Cousin Butchie understands the kinds of feelings you are having. The death of a loved one is one of the cruelist experiences most people ever endure. When you are only 16 years of age it is especially distressing. Many churches and temples have bereavement ministries. For example, he Catholic Diocese of Metuchen has an excellent breavement program which is held several times a year for a period of six weeks. It is open to people of all faiths, and people of no particular faith. It is a place where people are free to cry and to share the hurt which everyone else in the group is experiencing. A highly trained grief therapist runs the group.
You might also go to your school guidance counselor or a teacher you especially like. They will listen, care and get you headed in the right direction. Also ask the funeral director to give you some referrals or suggestions.
Do not let yourself dwell on the insensitive remarks people make at funerals. They may mean well, but the damage they do is horrendous. In almost every instance, they would do better to give you a hug and tell you how sorry they are. As you meet these people from day to day, do not ever listen to any suggestion that grief and healing occur quickly. There is no time schedule, and for a long time, it will seem that you're taking one step ahead and two steps backward. If your dad seems that he might want to talk, start the conversation and help each other. It may very well help you to have a stronger bond with your father.
I'll share a story that Cousin Butchie's friend and pastor told at my dad's funeral.
There are people standing on our local shore crying and feeling very sad that a loved one has passed away. Their loved one is on a boat setting sail for a distant shore. As the far away shore grows closer, there is the sound of laughter and tears of happiness. There is rejoicing when they once had sadness. For example, you have lost your mother for the time being, but she has passed into the presence of your grandparents and others relatives and friends who were very close to your mother. Mom feels very uneasy seeing the grief and sadness in those she left behind; but she is also filled with joy as she once again meets the people she sadly bid farewell when she was on our shore.
I hope this helps, even if just a little. I can truly feel the type of pain you are having, but I also know that it's unique to each survivor. Should a therapist be available for you, don't reject it.
You have a lot of living to do, and your mom lives on in your loving memories-- until you are reunited for all time.
For help finding resources or even to just exchange emails, please feel free to contact Cousin Butchie at email@example.com