Early Sunday morning, September 26, 2010, a truck carrying four teenagers from Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, Louisiana crashed and took the lives of all four passengers. The teens (two boys, two girls) were nearly home while returning from the LSU football game in Baton Rouge Saturday night. The entire high school and community of Houma is struck and terribly saddened by the loss of these four young lives. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it is suspected that alcohol may have been involved, or it may have simply been a case of the driver falling asleep at the wheel.
Grief counselors and other sources of support have converged on Vandebilt to assist the peers and families of the four lost teens.
Online article: http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20100926/BREAKING/100929403
Although parents do their best to aid their children in the grief process, they often look for additional assistance and guidance. Being a faith community, it’s important that Vandebilt turn to the basis of their foundation for guidance. Mass has been said today in several neighboring Catholic parishes, as well as at Vandebilt itself. Many parish pastors, priests, nuns and lay ministers will most certainly a source of consolation and counsel.
Coping with the deaths of friends and family is overwhelmingly difficult for adults, but children and teens perceive this experience differently than grown-ups. I recall having a very unsettling, disturbing experience for weeks following the tragic death of a classmate just before the start of our senior year. The year after our graduation, we lost another classmate. It doesn’t make sense at all to reason about the deaths of young people so tragically just as their lives are beginning. We all remember the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, and most recently, the tornado-caused disaster at Enterprise High School that took eight young lives. So much is senseless about these events, but in some cases, as perhaps in this Houma tragedy, the reality and deadliness of driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while overly tired are bitter lessons and realities to face.
Although Christians take comfort in knowing that there is a glorious, eternal life awaiting after death, coming to terms and facing their own mortality is very traumatizing for teens, and all the while they’re grieving the loss of a close friend or perhaps sibling.
What is your experience with the loss of a peer? Did you lose a classmate tragically (either to illness or injury) while in your teens? Has your own child experienced the loss of a friend?
As parents, we want desperately to comfort, reassure and give hope to our suffering child. Catholic/Christian resources and sources of counsel can be especially helpful at this time. Allowing and encouraging your child to grieve, to experience the seven stages of grief will be the most healthy, healing path to wellness and wholeness once again.
Please visit: http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html
Although there are many resources to help parents and their children deal and cope with grief, one source of resources is Solace Tree, where you’ll find many sources for assistance and comfort as you and your child experience the painful, confusing stages of grief and loss.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Heavenly Father, please welcome your children into your warm, loving arms where they shall spend eternity in glory praising your name. For the sorrowful friends and family members left behind, please also wrap them in your arms where you can comfort and remind them of your promise the of eternal life, where they will one day be reunited with their loved ones.