Dealing with loss
Emily Steinle is only 14 but she's already attended at least 12 funerals since 1999. There have been friends, family and friends close enough to be family. "It's just weird," she said of the amount of funerals she's attended thus far. "It's just ...
Emily Steinle is only 14 but she's already attended at least 12 funerals since 1999.
There have been friends, family and friends close enough to be family.
"It's just weird," she said of the amount of funerals she's attended thus far. "It's just something I grew up with. Not a very good thing to grow up with."
Sitting with a folder full of pictures, a list of names and leaflets from funerals, Emily and her mom, Kelly, of Osage, talk about those they've lost.
Kelly admits when her cousin and then her sister, Kris, died she was too wrapped up in her own grief to realize what her daughter was going through. Since being more in tune with Emily's pain, Kelly encourages parents to not get so involved with everyone else, but pay more attention to what their family is, or isn't, expressing.
She said she feels it's important for people to attend the burial as well. It's a form of closure.
The people Emily has had to deal with losing include her aunt, Kris, her cousin, J.D., and a close friend that lived with the family, Adam Philija.
"Adam was the first one that hit me," Emily said.
A large portion of the funerals Kelly and Emily have attended were for relatives and friends that had died much too young.
"It's a little easier to accept when they're older and dying," Kelly said.
Most recently, Emily's grandpa, Ken Steinle, died.
Before her grandpa died, he was using hospice services. Hospice of the Red River Valley introduced her to a support group for young people who have lost a loved one.
Hospice of the Red River Valley held a six-week support group for kids in the past, which Emily attended briefly. But now hospice is reformatting the support group to meet one Saturday in November instead.
During the time, kids play games, talk with others and eat lunch.
Emily didn't continue the group because she had a hard time expressing herself.
"I was pretty little then. I didn't like to open up to people I don't know," she said.
Instead, Emily has chosen to visit with a psychologist for the last two years to help deal with the grief she has gone through. She said they talk about other issues that affect her, but about grief quite a bit.
Death and grief may not end, but there are outlets for young people to talk and deal with the sadness death can bring.
Kelly said her family wouldn't have gotten through what they have if it weren't for their faith.
After an invitation, and as a courtesy, they attended Lakes Area Vineyard Church in Detroit Lakes.
"The first time we went there, we just knew this was the place for us," Kelly said.
The family has been attending ever since and Emily is involved with the youth group.
Since their time with the church, Kelly said the family has been "touched" by the support and friendships they have received.
"It's one of those positive things that comes out of a negative thing," she said.
Besides the prayers, she added the church has supported her family during the physical aspects as well, like preparing food, helping at funeral services and at the graveside.
"If people don't have that (faith), I don't know how people get through it," she said.
Looking beyond the support of the church, there are also the hospice support groups.
Currently, hospice is offering a Children Grieve Too support group for 7-17 year olds. It meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the Calvary Lutheran Church, Perham. It will start with a light supper and the support group will begin at 6.
"It's a safe place to talk about death of a loved one," hospice's Grief Counselor Cindy Hendrickson said.
Through games and activities, kids can talk about their loved ones and share memories. They'll learn of different ways to cope with their grief.
She said one of the responses she received from a child that participated in the group was "no one makes fun of you."
The group is free to attend.
Also, in November, hospice is forming a Saturday support group called Youth Journeys. It meets Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hospice of the Red River Valley office in Detroit Lakes. It includes lunch and activities. All young people are welcome.
For more information on the hospice support groups, call Cindy Hendrickson at 847-9493.