Dealing with grief


I lost a loved one when I was 12. He had a serious substance-abuse problem and due to that, had a fatal car accident. He was not a family member but someone in the community who saw that I was lonely (7th grade blues) and did what he could to help. He was several years older than I was, and took an “older brother” role. I don’t have any older blood siblings. I’ll call him “Daniel” after the Elton John song about someone who died young.

It has been a complicated process dealing with this grief, b/c he had some very serious problems as well as the ability to be kind and compassionate. And when he died, I did not feel that I had an “official” role in mourning b/c I was not a “recognized” friend or family member.

It has been hard to deal with this over the years. In fact it was a major part of the reason why I left the Church and am having difficulty with the idea of returning. I had confided in a priest about certain aspects of this situation, which I feel could have saved his life if the priest had handled it correctly, but the priest (who left the priesthood many years ago and is now in jail for abusing someone else) failed to do anything constructive.

Sometimes I miss him so much I can’t stand it. I’m in therapy and I see a psychiatrist so there are no crises here. I just don’t know what to do about my faith. What I would want is to see him again after death in a “purified” state where he no longer has the problems that he struggled with while alive.

I don’t have an easy question here, but I’d welcome any thoughts people have about grief or issues of faith when someone dies young, and it quite possibly could have been prevented if adults had helped. I was 12 when he died and there was just too much I didn’t understand.


*Grief is one of those areas in life, that varies from person to person. No one can say…well, you’ve grieved now for ‘‘x’’ number of days, weeks, months, years–time’s up, get on with life now. Nope, only you can grieve over your loss, in your own personal way. I have read books about grief, some good, some not. I would highly recommend A Grief Observed by CS Lewis. Excellent, I still turn to it from time to time. I’m 41 now, my parents died when I was a little girl…and there are days, when that little girl still needs a hug. :o I think for me anyways, fighting grief, and wishing that little girl to vanish, was what caused me to have hang ups far longer than I should have, about my parents’ deaths. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to sleep, sleep.

But, I would offer this as a caution…when grief paralyzes you, to where you close yourself off from living your own life, that is when counseling is in order. But, counseling can be of great help, even if you are not in such a state.

As an aside, I started a social group here called ‘‘Good Grief,’’ I have not posted for a while there, but I’d encourage you to read the various posts from many here who are experiencing grief. Gives you many varied perspectives.

Prayers for you to heal. *


thanks for your kind reply. I have grieved on and off over the years but I am really facing it now for the first time. It has been delayed a long time b/c I had other serious problems growing up, and they took priority. In fact I think the reason I am feeling it so much now is b/c I had to suppress it for so long. Then in college I became mentally ill w/bipolar disorder (about 21 years ago) and I was dealing with that for a long time, which made facing my childhood to be difficult.

However, now that I can talk about it, I think I will be able to work through it.

I’m sorry for the loss of your parents, and I’ll look for the book you mention and your social group.


Silentstar I am very sorry to hear of your loss. Grief can be complicated, messy and life long in different ways. At one point I would read that we should “say goodbye” to a loved one to have closure. I found I could not bring myself to say goodbye to my mom who died when I was 13 because her memory and presence was keeping me sane and alive. I finally read something that helped reconcile this conflict. Love is eternal. Therefore it is OK to eternally feel that love for a loved one who has died. As Whatevergirl wisely says if it is interfering with you functioning normally and you feel “stuck” in a state of chronic grief then getting help may be needed and it sounds like you you have a place to go to talk in that case.

I wonder if much of what you are experiencing is due to it not be acknowledged at the time of your friends death. It is often the case that children’s grief is overlooked and unacknowledged, combined with all the challenges of growing up and moving into puberty your emotions dating from that time can be very strong.

I also had a loved one who I was not related to who had serious problems in the form of drug addiction. Eventually he died as a result of his addictions. He was such a wonderful person in so many ways and he loved God so much. I do believe he is with Our Lord and is at peace. As Catholics we believe we will see our loved ones again, those who have gone before us. Pray for your friend and offer masses for the repose of his soul. All of our sinfulness is burnt away by the power of God’s love. Your hope to see your friend in a “purified state” is in line with Catholic teaching so have hope and confidence in God that your love and prayers are not wasted.

I pray that you receive the peace that the world cannot give. God bless you.


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