Friday, March 5, 2010

Tragedy & Kindness

It's been a very difficult week here. Last weekend one of the young people in our family's circle of friends was killed in a tragic accident. No drinking or drugs. An accident. Nobody's fault. But he's still gone. His life cut short before he even finished high school.

This is where the kindness kicks in. Teens amaze me. They often get such bad coverage in the media. I teach younger kids, but I know a lot of teens (including my kids and their friends). Kids across our city came together and did some pretty incredible things in honour of this young man. Many of them brought me to tears. Strength, honour, compassion, love and kindness.

These are the teens we write for. These are the teens we write about. These are the kids who come together, who help out the family, who are creative and compassionate even in their grief. They've written tributes, messages, poetry and songs. They've helped each other even as they've felt lost themselves.

When we write YA, we have to remember the depth of feelings of this age group. To portray them honestly, we have to include their capacity for love and kindness. Their resiliency.

Our hope.

If you've got one, give a teen a hug today.

89 comments:

  1. This was truly a beautiful heartfelt post. Thank you! (Hugs)Indigo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry to hear about the tragic accident. I always hate to hear about teens who are just beginning their journey only to have it end.

    Hugs to you and the teens affected by the loss...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Indigo. It's been tough.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Karen - thanks - it's been a really hard week for everyone involved. You're so right about the tragedy. It's truly heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jemi. An accident like this turns life upside-down and asks us all to remember how precious each day is. Thanks to your post, I'm thinking about that too. It's the ripple that carries far across the water when a stone breaks the surface and plunges out of sight.

    My thoughts and prayers are with your entire circle of family and friends. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Nicole. Your kind words and thoughts are much appreciated. It's nice to know this tragedy can cause others to pause and appreciate. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I'm a high school teacher and I constantly tell people how wonderful teenagers can be. They are truly generous when the need is there. I've also as a teacher suffered the loss of students to accidents and illness. It's gut wrenching and the wounds never really heal. My thoughts with you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of this young man, to your family and your community. So good to hear about the goodness of the teens in your life. It gives us hope.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Deeply saddened to hear about the death of anyone, but especially someone so young. Another dream, gone.

    I shudder to think how his poor family and friends are coping, which includes you, of course Jemi.

    May time heal some of the pain, soon.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much Susan. As high school teachers you're so much closer to tragedy than most elementary teachers. It's awful. But the kids constantly amaze me. Their compassion knows no bounds.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My teenage twin daughters have lost 2 friends in seperate accidents. It was amazing to see all the kids come together and help each other deal with the loss. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Elle. It certainly does. Anyone who watched these kids this week knows their boundless strength. Hope indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Jemi, I'm so sorry for your loss. It's encouraging to hear how generous and caring the teens are. I know it firsthand -- when I was a teen (not long ago), I had a lot of friends/acquaintances who passed away, and young people really do come together and support each other. I'll be praying for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wendy - thanks my friend. It's been a long week and so sad. He was on a good path. Seeing it ended is so difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Niki - your poor girls. It's so very hard. And so very inspiring to watch the kids help each other. They instinctively do what is needed.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much Shelley. The kids in this city have faced a lot of trauma over the past few years. So many sad accidents and illnesses. It's so very, very hard. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sorry to hear of your loss of a friend. Teens can surprise you. My wife had a blowout at night and a really freaky teen-aged tattooed guy kindly changed her tire and got her back in the road. You just never know.

    Stephen Tremp

    ReplyDelete
  18. Stephen - Thank you. You're so right. People rarely react in stereotypes. Thank goodness :) People are generally a whole lot kinder than we expect.

    ReplyDelete
  19. So very sad. They are a generation who feels deeply and are full of great nobility when allowed to show it.

    Thanks for giving us a moment to think on what's really important.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jackee - it is. I am often amazed and impressed by kids & their strengths.

    ReplyDelete
  21. So sorry to hear of this loss. Teenagers amaze me how they seem to change into young adults in times like this. They're feelings are much deeper than we realize on a daily bases. Wishing you strength and peace.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm so sorry for your loss, but it is heartwarming to hear the way his friends have rallied together. So sad that they've had to be touched by tragedy so young.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Beautiful post, and I'm so sorry :(
    I see sick kids all the time here at the hospital, but I particularly remember this one teen. She held her IV stand as she walked, back straight and proud, not even trying to cover her patchy hair from the chemotherapy with a kerchief. Looking into her eyes, you knew she was staring death in the face every moment. She's one of the bravest people I've ever seen. You're right, teens should never be talked down to--there's much more to them than people give them credit.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks Mason - I appreciate the thoughts. You're so right about kids and their strengths.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Melissa - yes, they really have been amazing. It's so very tragic. Thanks for your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Lorel - you're right - teens and kids have reserves of strength and dignity we often never see. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  27. beautiful, beautiful post. you've managed to find the inspirational inside a great tragedy. Sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks so much Terry Lynn. It helps to put it down. I appreciate the kind words.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Jemi; So true that teens are amazing. It's that time in our lives when we feel like we truly have the capacity to change the world... Wonderful. Great post and wonderful reminder to the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Let's try this again. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, and I appreciate your heartfelt comments. I have three kids, ages 13, 12, and 10, and I'll give them all a hug today.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Kristi - You're so right! Teens are our hope for change - our chance to improve our world. We're in good hands :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Susan - thanks for stopping by.

    Thank you. I hope your kids never have to lose a friend in this way. It's been a tough week.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What a tragedy--it never seems "right" when someone so young loses his or her life, no matter the circumstances.

    And you are so correct. Teens are amazing. I see the best and worst of them in my profession and they never cease to amaze me. It's fantastic that they are being so supportive of one another.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mary - so true. No matter how long I work with kids, the good always outweighs the other stuff - by a long shot. I'm glad to see them pull together too.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Sorry to hear of the loss. Obviously that young man meant a great deal to a lot of people.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Alex - thank you so much. He certainly did - he will be missed.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing, but thank you so much for this post. Teens are often stereotyped by adults as being shallow and self-absorbed, but they have deep wells of emotion, strength, and as you said, resiliency. They are on the brink of so much, and it is heartbreaking when that is cut short.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Tricia - thank you. It has been heartbreaking. So sad. With some amazing kids showing us some light.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I'm sorry for your loss, Jemi.

    This post was a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to him, and to teens all around.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks Tara. It helps a bit to write it out. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  42. That's so sad to hear. I hope the family and friends get through everything okay. Sometimes we need the reminder to take a step back and analyze what we are doing, why, and who we're doing it for. Thanks for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Tiana - Thank you - everyone's moving slowly forward. It does make you pause think.

    ReplyDelete
  44. A beautiful reminder of why we do what we do. To tell stories that are as important as this.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks Roz. There are many ways to honour our loved ones - telling their stories counts for a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  46. It's a struggle to be a teenager, that's why they need plenty of reassurance, support, and good teaching and role-modeling. The authors they read can do wonders in helping their young readers stay on track in becoming healthy adults who may one day have kids of their own.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Lee - so very true. The emotions run so strong, so deep. I hope my writing will do this one day.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I'm sorry for your loss.

    I love those moments when teenagers show compassion and kindness. Some people focus on the negative side of teenagers--egocentricity, trendiness, nonchalance--but they have a wide range of emotion and some situations impact them deeply.

    ReplyDelete
  49. When we lose someone unexpectedly, especially someone so young, it's as though the natural order has been violated: hopes, dreams, potential all gone. Thank you for the heartfelt post and reminding us to cherish those around us.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hey thanks for visiting my blog, and oh yes how could I *forget* Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start THe Fire' as smart pop song?!? THat song taught me more about history than one year of O Level History class.

    Btw this is a poignant and sobering post

    ReplyDelete
  51. Medeia - thanks so much. Teens are much more well rounded than people give them credit for. They've certainly showed their depth this week.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks VR - it's been rough. So much potential squashed. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Lee - Billy Joel's always been one of my favourite singer/songwriters :)

    Thanks - it's been a tough song.

    ReplyDelete
  54. It's good that young people are so resilient and able to handle most disasters. Sorry to hear about the tragic accident.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Harvee - yes, thankfully they are resilient, because they feel so deeply. Thanks for the kind thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
  56. "When we write YA, we have to remember the depth of feelings of this age group. To portray them honestly, we have to include their capacity for love and kindness. Their resiliency.

    Our hope."

    Thanks for this tragic yet hopeful post. I will remember this as I move forward on edits. Hugs to you and all who were touched by this horrible tragedy.

    I'm going to go hug my teens now.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Thanks Debra. It's been very tough. My kids have gotten a lot of extra hugs this week too.

    ReplyDelete
  58. What a beautiful post, Jemi. But I'm sorry to hear of the accident that inspired it. Sometimes things happen that just stun you, wondering...why? But what an amazing response from your community. It's certainly inspiring, and makes me all the more glad to be writing YA.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thanks Carol. You're so right - we've been asking Why? a lot this week. I hope the kids continue to help each other through it.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I am so sorry this tragedy happened. And it is amazing to watch teens rally around each other. I hope peace comes to you this week.

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

    ReplyDelete
  61. Michele - thanks for your kind thoughts. They are much appreciated. The kids have been great.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Oh Jemi, I am so sorry for your loss and the loss of your community. Losing someone so young has got to be one of the most difficult things to go through in life. It's wonderful to hear that the local teens are able to band together to show their support for the family.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Lisa & Laura - thanks so much. It's been so tragic, so hard, yet with stunning moments of compassion. Thanks for your thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
  64. So sad. I'm sorry you and your friends are experiencing such grief. I especially feel for the family.

    Regarding teens, you're right. They're awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Dawn - thanks so much. It's been an incredibly difficult time for his poor family.

    Teens are fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Oh, so sorry to read this post.

    I lost a friend at 18 and it was hard. I remember we all pulled together and made meals, etc. for the family.

    You're right - teens are fab.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I'm sorry for your loss, Jemi. I hope you continue to find comfort during this difficult time.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Carolyn - you're right - it's so hard, but the kids are helping out so much. Great kids.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thanks Lisa - it's been difficult, but we're getting through as best we can. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Aww, so sad to hear that. I'm really sorry. Praying you and the family find comfort during this time.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Really, really sorry to hear this.

    But yes, teens always surprise me with the depth and range of their emotions.

    My thoughts are with you guys right now.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Jennifer - thanks so much - the family is getting through - but it's so hard for them.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Anne - thank you. Yes - the kids have been fabulous - such strength. Thanks for your thoughts :)

    ReplyDelete
  74. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jemi. It is never easy to lose someone and it's even worse when they are just beginning a life that should be full of joy and promise. I remember losing two classmates in high school (both from illness) and the way all of us kids pulled together to remember their friendship. Teenagers really are amazing, something we don't hear much about what with all the bad rap they get about attitudes and drinking and so forth. Thank you for sharing with us, I'm sending good thoughts your way.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Julie - you're so right. That would have been so difficult losing 2 kids in high school.

    Thanks for the kinds thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Jemi, I am so sorry! Tragedies seem to be surfacing more each day. You and that family are in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Michele - thanks - I'm going to try to get back to it (maybe tonight) - it's been a tough time.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Thanks so much Tamika - I appreciate your kind thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Thanks Elana - all these kind thoughts help.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Oh, I am so, so sorry Jemi. I cannot even begin to imagine how terrible it must be for you, your family and friends. It just doesn't seem fair when things like this happen. I'm only thankful that the teenagers who were touched by this young man have helped in the healing process. We're thinking about you.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Hugs~

    You are so right when you say kids are much deeper than we give them credit for. Teens are amazing.

    Take care of yourself and your circle of friends.

    ReplyDelete
  82. LiLa - thanks so much. It's been so tough. It's the little things that get you. Small reminders, and then you remember. The kids have been great - really great.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Thanks Cat. Everyone is kind of hanging in and hanging on to each other.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Hi Jemi,
    What a touching post and a lovely way to pay tribute to the young man, his friends and family.
    Donna Volkenannt

    ReplyDelete
  85. Thanks Donna. It helps to express it out loud and on paper. It's definitely been a tough time for all.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Wow, powerful post. I'm not surprised by the impressive behavior of teens. We are capable of so much. Glad to know you understand and will put that comprehension in your writing. And I'm so sorry about the tragedy.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Thanks Alyssa. I appreciate your kind thoughts - it's been so difficult. I've got teens of my own, so I know how wonderful you all are, but it's so good to see everyone pull together. Thanks for dropping by.

    ReplyDelete