Hi. Glad you made it here. Chances are, you know someone who died. It might have been your mother or father. Your sister or brother. Your friend. It may have happened a long time ago or just recently. What has it been like for you? Randy, a sophomore in high school, was 14 when his dad died of colon cancer. This is how he describes the experience of grieving the death of his dad:
“It’s been six months since my dad died. I haven’t told my friends how I feel. I just smile and make everybody laugh so they don’t know how much it hurts. I don’t talk to my mom because I don’t want her to feel worse. Once I did, but she got all teary. I felt like crying too. No way am I going to cry.”
Maybe you can relate to Randy. Or maybe you’ve felt some of these things:
Sometimes it helps to talk to other people your own age who’ve had a death. Or to read about their experiences. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve a death. But there are some helpful and not-so-helpful ways that people grieve. You can learn about these things here at the web site, or by attending the Willow Center program, or by visiting www.hellogrief.com for support and information.
A grieving teen has the right….
…to know the truth about the death, the deceased, and the circumstances.
…to have questions answered honestly.
…to be heard with dignity and respect.
…to be silent and not tell you her/his grief emotions and thoughts.
…to not agree with your perceptions and conclusions.
…to see the person who died and the place of the death.
…to grieve any way she/he wants without hurting self or others.
…to feel all the feelings and to think all the thoughts of his/her own unique grief.
…to not have to follow the “Stages of Grief” as outlined in a high school health book.
…to grieve in one’s own unique, individual way without censorship.
…to be angry at death, at the person who died, at God, at self, and at others.
…to have his/her own theological and philosophical beliefs about life and death.
…to be involved in the decisions about the rituals related to the death.
…to not be taken advantage of in this vulnerable mourning condition and circumstances.
…to have guilt about how he/she could have intervened to stop the death.
This Bill of Rights was developed by participating teens at The Dougy Center, Portland, OR, and has been given the stamp of approval by the teens that have attended the Willow Center, and does not represent “official” policies of the Center.
“The kids love to come and it has made a huge difference in their lives. Here, tears turn to smiles and hearts are mended. Thank-you – all of you – what a blessing all of you are.”
– Parent Participant