Today, was Grandma Alice’s Funeral, and I noticed that several of the teens who attended looked like they felt awkward. Maybe they weren’t sure what to do, or how to behave. They dealt with it very well—don’t get me wrong, but I wondered, had anyone checked in with them to ask if they were okay? We tend to give a lot of attention to the closest relatives of the deceased (and rightly so, they need it) but I worry about the teens. They seem kind of disconnected. I know they feel the loss, but how are they dealing with the grief? And how are they dealing with watching their parents fall apart? I have a feeling that this is where religious ritual comes into play, and no matter which religion is for your family, there is a ritual of sorts for dealing with death. I’ve noticed, even at the Catholic Church that I was at today, that rituals seem to have loosened. Is it just me? I mean, there was a very particular way to say certain prayers, at certain times, you knelt during some, you stood during others, and you recited very particular responses—many of these were absent (or loosely suggested) today. I found it just a little disturbing, and the fact that it disturbed me disturbed me. At one time I would have let that roll right off my back (like water off a duck’s back, as Grandpa Henry would say), but not today. Today, I needed the comfort of ritual. Does that make me weak? Perhaps. But I believe it also makes me human.
If you have suggested readings for teens dealing with the death of a loved one, please leave titles in the comments. I’d like to pass on the suggestions to the teens I know. Your suggestions could help struggling teens dealing with loss.
Thank you for helping me make a difference.
Julianna M. Cruz is a teacher, an author, and an Inlandian.