A Teenager Living With Grief
When someone dies, people don't always think about the teenagers or the children that are involved. They forget that the death hurts as much for a child or teenager as it does an adult. So often the child or teenagers don't get that assurance, that love, that attention that they so desperately need during a loss.
This is my story. Isn’t being a teenager supposed to be the best time of your life? It should be fun and exciting shouldn’t it? I certainly never thought I would have to face death in my teenage years. My first year as a teenager I lost my uncle Denny to cancer. He had only battled it a short while, about 6 months. He died March 8, 2006.
When my uncle had first become sick my aunt and uncle decided to move to Michigan. They had been living in California, but they wanted to be closer to the family, so they moved into our house. Those 6 months were painful to watch. He was confined to his bed most of the time. He needed a machine to help him breath. It was hard watching him just slowly die away right before your eyes. I tried to hold it all together and just enjoy those last moments I did have with him.
I remember baking him a cake for his birthday with my aunt. It was the first cake I ever made and it was his last birthday we celebrated before he died. All the while my uncle was sick he greatly encouraged me and inspired me in my art. I was always drawing him pictures and he was always proud of my artistic side, for he was a true artist at heart. He loved using his hands to make things. He loved painting and carving. His heart and soul loved to create things.
When he died I lost that source of inspiration and encouragement in my own art. A part of me died inside. I lost all my enjoyment in my art for awhile. Not too long after my uncle died, 6 months to be exact, my aunt Joy died from cancer as well. She had battled it at the same time he had. She had battled it for more than 2 years. Watching them both go through it at the same time was hard for me.
My aunt was the one who really encouraged me in my faith and she was a very good role model for me. She was a person I looked up to, who I admired. She had a strong faith, even towards the end. The week before she died, she told me to come sit by her bed. I knew the moment was coming near and I knew that the conversation we were about to have was going to be one of our last. It made me uncomfortable thinking that she could be gone at any moment. But I went and sat by her side.
She flat out told me she wasn’t going to make it. Then she told me something I will never forget. She told me she loved me and she told me that despite what is happening, God is good and that He is always there and that He will comfort me in my time of troubles. She told me to never lose faith and to always trust God. Then she gave me a hug, a hug I will never forget, a hug that I wish had lasted forever.
I knew that this talk was her goodbye, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I was not ready to let her go. As soon as we were done talking and hugging I went outside and I just cried and cried and cried. I was not ready for this. I felt overwhelmed, and it just felt like to much to bear as a teenager. She died 2 days before my 14th birthday. I had to go to her funeral on my birthday. If my teenage years were supposed to be the happiest time of my life, then I why did I have to face all this? Losing 2 people in one short year was not easy.
I never really grieved the loss of either one because by the time I would start to grieve one loss another loss would come along. Well, a year after my uncles death, my cousin Kim died of cancer as well. Kim was strong in her faith. Always living life to the fullest. She was barely 21 when she died. She was the one that bridged the gap of grandchildren in our family. She was about 7 or 8 years older than me and like 5 years younger than the youngest of the older children. Now that she’s gone, there is this weird gap and I feel like the oddball out of the group now because I am now the oldest of the youngest grandkids and the youngest of the oldest grandkids.
There is like this 10 year gap between me and the next cousin up and there is this huge gap between me and the youngest grandkids. So I feel like I am stuck in the middle of two age groups and it’s awkward for me. My older cousins have tried to help make me feel a little more comfortable by inviting me to do things with them when we have family gatherings, but you can still sense that feeling of awkwardness. My cousin Kim was someone I had admired also. She was a very strong young woman.
She battled cancer for 6 years, she had been diagnosed at the age of 15. The age I was when she died. She had died 6 months after my aunt had died. So in a short year and a half I lost 3 people I had loved and cared about greatly. Because everything happened so fast, I did not give myself a chance to grieve. I tried to be strong for my family instead, which I know now was not a good thing to do.
Now everyone else in my family has moved on. Up until this year I avoided my feelings. I tried to hide all the pain I felt. But after awhile, it catches up to you and there is just nothing you can do about it. It hits you hard. It was like I had run into a brick wall. The pain was intense when I finally allowed myself to grieve. I had let it stack up for so long that when I finally was able to deal with it, I faced some really tough days. Days where I wondered if I would make it through.
I am still struggling and I have yet to make it all the way through this. Right now all my relationships are being tested because of all that I am going through and it has been a real test in my character. I have hope that God will bring some brighter days and that things will get better, but in this moment it’s hard. I just found out recently too that my friend has cancer as well, so it’s been tough watching her go through chemo, and I just found out about a month ago that my pastors wife also has cancer.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the years ahead or in the days ahead, but I know that whatever happens I will remain faithful to my God. I would really appreciate it though if you would keep me in your prayers, those of you that read this. Thanks!