What Do You Say? Our daughter lost a school friend yesterday. I received an email while we were lunching with her cousins that one of her classmates died suddenly, unexpectedly. They had shared a graduation two months earlier. I didn’t tell her at first but waited until we were back in her apartment and her cousins had left. She has never lost a peer or friend. This is the first time. Our hearts are broken, hers, mine, the school’s, their friends’ and most of all the young man’s family. Classmates were already corresponding on Facebook by the time I told her. She burst into tears and just sobbed her heart out, ran to her dorm staff and then her apartment-mate and her mom who had just walked in. She actually said, “Why did he have to die?” He was young, funny, tall, and kind. Why?
What’s The Expression Here? My daughter and I always share a comforting phrase when someone passes away: “They had a good, long life” whether it be our seventeen and half year old cat Tessie, our ninety-one year old Uncle Harold, or her eighty-nine year old grandpa. But that won’t work in this case. I am not sure how our daughter will incorporate this grief. She has lost people, but this is different. This fellow is young, her friend and full of life. They all shared a joke with him from Seinfeld, “No soup for you!” and laughed for hours on the phone about it. This just stinks, as she would say about other rotten deals. This just stinks.
Celebrating The Life: Always! And that is what everyone will do. A beloved life. With a disabled child, you work so hard to launch their lives, and his was at that launching point. And then it slipped away. I hope that the school has a memorial service later on so our daughter can attend. I will drive her up there for sure. To place some comforting closure on this loss. To stand with her friends. To support his family in their grief. Perhaps for her and her classmates to chuckle again at just how much humor and friendship he brought into their lives.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011