Posted by: chlost | March 19, 2011

Aunthood is no picnic, either

My fifteen year old nephew’s friend was killed yesterday. The friend was 14, just going to school in the morning. His mom said goodbye to him as he left the house for the bus stop, and he was hit by an SUV.

Of course we all know that the death of a child of that age is a tragedy. For the teenage kids dealing with the death of a friend, it is also very traumatic. Kids that age still have so much magical thinking going on in their heads. Their friends are not supposed to die. This generation in particular have been raised with the concept of  “extra lives”. Video games have provided them with an anticipation that even though someone in their life  is killed, there is a little button somewhere which will allow the person to have at least another shot at fighting their way through life.

Sorry, kids, but it just ain’t so.

My nephew has learned the lesson the hard way, as his mom (my sister) died just about a year ago. He knows better than many of his friends that life is not fair, people die and do not come back, and that sometimes life is just really sad. He posted something to that effect on his facebook page. He seems to be taking on the role of counselor and teacher to his peers through this event.

I am worried about my nephew. Will the emotional upheaval be easier for him to navigate because he has just so recently gone through something similar? Or will this be even harder for him because he has just so recently gone through something similar.? I would feel so much better about it all if I had confidence that my brother-in-law would be able to help him with his grief. But I think that my b-i-l is pretty much clueless about my nephew’s feelings. Being 1500 miles away, there is not much I can do for my nephew, except connect with him on Facebook. (I am getting better at that, at least…..I had about an hour “conversation” with him after he and his girlfriend broke up a few weeks ago). I feel very lucky that he will even talk with me about anything over fb.

This just reinforces my resolve to never ask “What’s next?” when things are going wrong. You probably don’t want to know.



  1. I’m so sorry for your loss of your sister. Your nephew sounds like a compassionate person, wanting to help others cope with loss by sharing his experience. And it’s probably true that your brother-in-law has all he can do to handle his own grief. This is one reason why the support of extended families is so crucial to helping each other navigate times of such great loss.

    I remember when I was in 8th grade I came back to school on a Monday morning to learn that a classmate had been thrown by a horse and then died from her injuries. It is hard for a teen to deal with. To this day I’m afraid of horses, I think because of being unfamiliar with them, and having no one to take the time to answer my questions about what happened. They didn’t have grief counselors back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

    • Yes, that is a hard age for tragedy….well it is at any age, but those teen years are hard enough. I hope that the grief counselors are helpful. Sometimes macho teen boys won’t use them.

  2. I understand all too well. My sister died in a plane crash 38 years ago and its impact has inextricably changed our family (and not for good) forever more. I am keeping good thoughts and prayers fpr all of you.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts, Kay.

  3. What a tragedy for your nephew, but at least he has you to talk with and that is really something. So many children don’t know where to turn to. I think you have more influence on him that you think, and I am sure of that. So keep talking and listening to him – that is the greatest help you can give him.

    • As long as he’s willing to talk, I will be there. So far, so good.

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