When grief comes to the young

Chicago homicide
A teenage boy grieves next to a makeshift memorial at the site where Ashley Hardmon was shot and killed on July 4th, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Hardmon, 19, was killed after being struck in the head by a bullet when two men opened fire on her and a group of friends on July 2nd.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, The Daily Circuit examined what it's like for a family to lose a loved one. One of the guests on that show referred to a moving article in the Cincinnati Enquirer on young men and grief.

"A full 3.5 percent of children younger than 18 will lose their mother or father, according to the Social Security Administration," wrote John Faherty, the author of the Enquirer piece. "But children do not have to fall victim to their grief. A six-year study of 244 youths by researchers at Arizona State University shows that children who work through their emotions will heal better. That children who work in groups will realize that they are not alone and that their feelings are legitimate."

Faherty spent a year following young men participating in a grief support group before writing about their experiences. He joins The Daily Circuit to talk about what he learned. Also joining the conversation is Richard Obershaw, a lecturer and author who specializes in grief therapy.


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Love & loss
"There are tons of what I call old wives' tales about grief," Obershaw said in a telephone interview. "Time heals is a terrible myth. If you think time heals, talk to the Israelis and the Palestinians. They have not healed. Another major myth is if you are a strong true believer, you don't need to grieve or mourn. It holds people back." (Hutchinson Leader)

Rewriting the 'rules' of grief
Doka adds that grief can accompany even happy occasions. For example, when a student graduates from college, he might be excited for the next chapter of life even as he grieves what he's leaving behind. The birth of a child can be a joyous occasion, but it can also bring a loss of independence and freedom. "It doesn't make you a bad mom if every once in awhile you grieve the loss of independence you had before," Doka says. "Viewing attachment through a cultural lens is also important... While the death of a godparent might not be viewed as particularly significant in some cultures, in the Hispanic culture, it is regarded as a very serious loss." (Counseling Today)

How We Misinterpret Grief
There are a number of problems with prescribed methods of grief and so-called stages of grieving. The main problem with this literature is that grieving is as individual as relationships and intrapersonal psychology are. In other words, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. (Psychology Today)

Video from the Enquirer story: