A thorough, gentle book for teens to navigate their personal experience of grief, and for parents and teachers to use with teens struggling with loss
Whether it's the death of a grandparent, pet, school friend, a teen fatality, a peer with terminal illness, living without a parent, or the death of a celebrity, teenagers experience loss in many ways and must struggle to come to terms with their shock and grief. Full of helpful tips, first person stories, and friendly advice, this resource helps teens navigate the loss of those they love. It covers such concerns as What can I do to help a friend who's grieving? What if I don't want to go to the funeral? What can I do when nothing seems to help? and Will other people think I don't care if I start to feel happy again?
|Publisher:||Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Molly Carlile is a playwright, educator, and former palliative care nurse.
Read an Excerpt
Sometimes Life Sucks
When Someone You Love Dies
By Molly Carlile
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2010 Molly Carlile
All rights reserved.
WHEN FRIENDS DIE AND YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN
Finn thought his heart would break when his little dog, Captain, was hit by a car. He cried quietly in bed at night for weeks on end, but that pain was nothing compared to how he felt right now. He couldn't believe that three of his mates were dead and his best friend, Toad, half dead in hospital. They had all gone to the party together, they were all drinking but, as usual, Dad had come and picked Finn up early 'cause he didn't trust him to come home with the rest of the guys. Now he was alone. People looked at him weird. He knew they were wondering why he hadn't been with the others. Finn didn't want anyone to know he was actually relieved that Dad had picked him up early, even though it was embarrassing. Dad had saved his life, but what life?
Finn, Church, Baz and Mouth had been mates since they all started kindergarten together. Toad had come along later in primary school and he and Finn had become best mates the day Toad had saved him from being beaten up by a gang of Grade 6 boys. Even when Finn thought about this now it made him laugh. Toad had saved him by blowing a 'power fart', which so impressed the big kids they forgot about Finn and gathered around Toad begging him to do it again. Toad's power farts became legendary. He did them all through high school. He did them in class when the teacher was facing the board. He did them in school assembly. He did them when he was playing footy and there wasn't enough action down his end of the field. He even did them at parties in front of the girls, which Finn had tried to tell him wasn't going to get him a chick, but he did it anyway.
Finn and Toad did everything together. Of course they hung out with the other guys as well, but it was Toad who Finn trusted most of all. When Finn got with 'Smelly Sally' at the Year 9 Formal, Toad stirred him but he didn't tell the other guys. In fact Toad promised he'd never tell anyone as long as Finn told him all the gory details. Toad taught Finn how to drive, though his mum didn't know. Toad also got him his part time job at the supermarket. And Toad had talked Finn's dad into letting him go to the party. Now Toad was in hospital and Mum said he was 'pretty well cactus' when she was telling Finn's sister about it on the phone.
Finn felt sick. He didn't know what to do and now, to make matters worse, Mouth's mum had come over last night and asked him if he would talk at Mouth's funeral. The whole time she was there Finn felt awkward. He didn't know what to say to her. She kept looking at him with her red, puffy eyes as if it was his fault.
We often feel uncomfortable around grieving people because they are sad, and we imagine we are somehow to blame.
After she'd left Finn told his Mum that he didn't want to talk at Mouth's funeral 'cause he didn't know what to say.
'Just say some nice things about him, love. It doesn't have to go for ages. Just a few nice things about what a good friend he was,' she said.
Finn felt the tears welling up in his eyes and ran from the kitchen out the back door. He sat on the step and his scruffy old dog, Shaggy, came up and nuzzled his face. Finn put his arms around Shaggy and bit his lip to stop the tears. He thought about Captain and how much he'd missed him until one night Dad had brought Shaggy home with him from work. He wondered if one day when he was old, he'd have replaced Church, Baz and Mouth with new friends, like he'd replaced Captain. The thought made him angry: angry with himself; angry with the world. And then came the thought he'd been trying to push out of his mind since the night of the crash: What if Toad dies too? Or maybe worse still, What if he's just a vegetable, can't think, can't talk, can't move?
Mum came out and sat on the step next to Finn. She put her arm around him and gave him a squeeze.
'Life really sucks sometimes, love,' she said. 'If you don't want to talk at Mouth's funeral you don't have to. I'll call his mum and tell her if you like.'
'You can't do that, Mum, they already hate me 'cause I'm still alive.'
'Now listen to me, Finn,' said Mum. 'It's not your fault and I won't have you feeling guilty just because you did the right thing.'
'I DIDN'T do the right thing. I just stopped drinking earlier 'cause I knew Dad was coming to pick me up.'
'Well, none of you should have been drinking but the boys shouldn't have been in that car. For God's sake, Finn, none of them have a licence.'
'Oh SHUT UP, Mum. I KNOW!' he snapped.
WHAT CAN HELP
When someone says out loud what we're thinking it can make us feel angry. It can help to say you're feeling angry and talk about it.
Finn threw Shaggy off his lap and stormed into the backyard. He picked up the axe and started chopping away at the block of wood he'd left sitting by the woodpile yesterday. He expected Mum to call out to him to be careful but she didn't. He turned around and looked back towards the step — but she wasn't there. She'd gone inside. Finn didn't want to be mad at Mum 'cause he knew she was right. Thank God, she didn't know about all the nights they had gone out in Mouth's old paddock bomb, doing burn-outs and donuts in the supermarket carpark.
The day of Mouth's funeral came and Finn put on the suit Mum had bought him. Dad was waiting in the car. Finn sat on the end of his bed looking at last year's footy photo. There they all were: Mouth, Baz, Church, Finn and Toad. All with their arms folded, trying not to laugh. Toad had a strained look on his face 'cause he was trying to brew up a power fart timed for exactly the moment when the camera went off. Finn looked at the photo. He looked into each of his friend's faces, one by one. He tried to memorise their smiles. He imagined them talking to him. He would never hear those voices again. He had lost not just one but all of his friends. Friends he had spent his whole life with. Part of him wished he had been in the car too, so they could all have died together. As soon as he thought this, he felt bad. Who would be there to look out for Toad if he was dead as well? Just then Mum stuck her head around the door.
'When my best friend died I thought my future died too. But it didn't die, it just changed from what I'd imagined.' Laura, 16
'Right to go love?' she asked.
The funeral was terrible. Finn hated seeing grown-ups crying. It made him feel helpless. And what was worse, he just couldn't cry. When he stood up to go out the front and talk about Mouth he felt the eyes of everyone on him except Mouth's dad, who wouldn't look at him at all. He couldn't remember what he said but he remembered kids from school standing by the road as the car with the coffin in it drove past. Then at the cemetery his teacher Mr Parkinson came up and put his hand on Finn's shoulder.
'You did a good job, Finn,' he said gently.
'A good job? A good, bloody job?' Finn snapped and stormed off towards the car.
What does he mean I did a good job? he thought. 'Parko's having a go just like everyone else. I'll never be able to show my face at school again. I'm the one who deserted his mates and lived.'
Finn slid down against the car and sat in the dirt. He picked up a stone and threw it as far as he could. 'Arrrr!' he yelled at no one in particular.
WHAT CAN HELP
When we feel frustrated and angry, energy builds up inside us. Sometimes this can make us feel like we're going to explode. Letting that energy go by doing something physical helps.
Church and Baz had a joint funeral. Finn didn't go. He just couldn't. Instead he waited till Mum and Dad had left and put on the DVD of his sixteenth birthday party. There they all were: Church, Baz, Mouth, Toad and Finn, dancing around like idiots to the Hilltop Hoods. Finn wondered what parties would be like in the future, without the boys. He wondered if he'd ever have a party again; if he'd ever feel happy again.
When someone you love dies, you think you will never feel happy again. But slowly you'll start to notice yourself smiling at things that are funny. One day you'll realise that you feel happy, even though it might only last for a few minutes.
A couple of days later Finn was finally allowed to visit Toad in hospital. Toad's mum said it might help. Finn sat in the car as Mum drove into the city. He felt scared.
'What do you recon he'll look like, Mum?' Finn asked.
'I don't know, love, but he's still in intensive care, so I guess there'll probably be lots of tubes and machines and things,' she replied.
DID YOU KNOW?
When you are going to see someone who is badly injured or dying in hospital, it helps to know what to expect.
That was an understatement. Finn stood at the door of intensive care and stared. It was a big, white room full of machines. He looked around at the people in the beds. They all looked like robots or something: tubes, machines, poles with plastic bags full of different coloured water hanging from them. It wasn't like a normal hospital room. There were no flowers, no talking, no pictures on the wall. Finn froze. He didn't want to go in. Just when he was about to turn around and run back to the car, Toad's mum saw him and came rushing over.
'Thank God you're here, Finn,' she said and gave him a hug. There was no escape now.
She held Finn's hand and led him over to a bed in the very corner of the room. Finn realised the person in the bed must be Toad, but he didn't recognise him. His face was all puffy and bruised, his head was covered with so many bandages it looked like he was wearing a white beanie, and his eyes were swollen shut. There were tubes going into the side of his neck and wires coming from his chest to a machine, making a beeping sound, by the bed. There was a big tube coming straight from his throat that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose and it was connected to a machine that kept making a loud sucking sound. Going straight through his leg were big silver wires that were suspended on a huge metal frame around the bed. His arm was plastered up to the shoulder and was hanging from a pole.
'Come around this side, Finn, you can sit on the chair,' Toad's mum said.
Finn looked around for his mum but she was standing in the doorway talking to Toad's dad. He had no choice. He walked carefully around the end of the bed to the other side. He sat on the chair next to Toad's mum. It was then he noticed. Where Toad's other arm should have been there was nothing. A big bandage across his shoulder ended in ... nothing. A stump, that's all there was. He felt sick. This couldn't be Toad, it looked nothing like him. This was a battered body in a bed, missing an arm. Toad was a big, buff guy.
Finn looked the body up and down. No, this can't be him. It's a mistake, he thought.
But then he saw it: peeking out from under the bandage across his shoulder, the very top of a coloured tattoo. The head of 'Mr Toad'.
Thoughts whirled around in Finn's mind. It can't be him. It doesn't look like him. This guy is skinny. But then there was the Mr Toad tattoo. Finn knew no one else would be gutsy enough to get a tattoo of a children's book character on his shoulder and surely there was no one else who would choose Mr Toad. Why would they? It wouldn't make any sense.
'You OK there love?' asked Toad's mum as she put her hand on his shoulder.
Finn couldn't move. He didn't want to look again. No matter how much he tried to convince himself that this was all a terrible mistake, he knew it wasn't.
'It's pretty scary the first time, but you'll get used to it,' she said softly. 'He needs you, Finn.'
'What can I do?' Finn asked.
'Just sit here for a while and talk to him. He can hear you, you know,' she said.
Finn looked up and stared at Toad's mum.
'How can he possibly hear me?' he snapped.
'He just can, Finn, so please ... talk to him,' she said, and it sounded like she was pleading. She got up from the chair and walked away.
WHAT CAN HELP
Sometimes telling someone about your feelings can be exhausting but it can help you to make some sense of things.
Finn leaned over towards the mashed, broken, swollen body in the bed that he now knew was his best friend, and started to talk. He told Toad about how angry he'd been after his dad picked him up early from the party. He told him about having to talk at Mouth's funeral. He told him that he'd piked out of going to Church and Baz's funeral. He told him how everyone looked at him funny, like he should have died too and he told him how lonely he felt. Once he started to talk, everything just seemed to pour out. Weeks and weeks of being sad, scared, embarrassed, angry, frustrated and lonely all came rushing out of his mouth. When he finished he took a big breath and slumped back in the chair.
Finn sat there for a long time, just thinking. Thinking about the future. How will Toad play footy with one arm? Will girls still be interested in him? Will his face ever look normal again? Will he be able to walk properly? Will he remember all the stuff that happened before the accident? He finally stood up and leaned over towards the bed. He touched Toad gently on the shoulder, putting his hand over Mr Toad's head.
When things change all of a sudden we can be scared of what the future holds because it's not the future we'd imagined.
'I'll come back in tomorrow, mate. Better get brewing up a power fart and stir this place up a bit, eh?' he said.
Finn walked around to the end of the bed and glanced back over his shoulder. The sounds of the beeping machine and the sucking machine didn't seem quite so scary now. He noticed the familiar freckles on Toad's nose and the curly black hair on his chest.
Toad's mum walked over and stood next to him.
'Will he be OK?' Finn asked.
'The doctors are turning off his breathing machine tonight, Finn,' she said softly. 'If he breathes on his own he'll be OK.'
'What if he doesn't?' Finn asked.
'We're not thinking about that,' she replied sadly.
It took Finn a moment, but he suddenly realised what she meant. He raced back over to the bed and leaned in close to Toad's ear, being careful to avoid the tubes.
'Listen, Toad: Church, Baz and Mouth are gone. You're my best friend. When they turn off that machine, you bloody well breathe, OK? No matter how hard it is. You're gonna breathe. One breath at a time. RIGHT?'
That night Finn couldn't eat his dinner. He tried to watch TV, but he couldn't concentrate. He tried to do some of his maths homework, but the numbers kept swirling around in his head and made no sense. He went down the backyard and started to chop some wood. He swung the axe as hard as he could and each time the blade hit the wood he muttered, 'BREATHE.' He swung and swung in a gentle rhythm, 'Breathe, breathe, breathe,' he repeated.
Q – WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP A FRIEND WHO'S GRIEVING?
A – THE DO'S & DON'TS
DO spend time DON'T avoid them because you don't
with your friend. know what to say.
DO tell them DON'T tell them you know how they
you can't imagine how they feel, 'cause you don't — you're not
must be feeling. them!
DO let them cry DON'T try to cheer them up.
if they want to.
DO be yourself. DON'T try to fix it.
WHAT DOES GRIEF MEAN?
Grief is the reaction we have to the loss of something or someone we value. It's a very real and personal experience. And we grieve differently for each person or thing because each situation is different: the relationship we have with a pet is not the same as the relationship we have with a friend or a parent. There is no normal way to grieve — we are all different people and our relationships are all different.
We don't only grieve when someone dies. We grieve when we lose anything that's important to us. We can grieve when our relationship to someone close to us changes; if they are hurt in an accident and won't be the same as they used to be, or if they suddenly dump us and start hanging out with someone else.
Excerpted from Sometimes Life Sucks by Molly Carlile. Copyright © 2010 Molly Carlile. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 When friends die and you're on your own,
2 Watching someone you love die,
3 I could die too,
4 Living in a nightmare,
5 Am I going crazy?,
6 It's all my fault!,
8 When will this be over?,
10 Who am I really?,
11 Dear Santa, please give me ...,
12 Helping a friend when things are tough,
13 Steph's funeral,
14 Thinking about the man in the mirror,
15 I just want to be happy!,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I did'nt read.