PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Dealing With Death: Let It Go, Let It Out

When you open a soda can, there's a little burst of air and noise and then you're ready to drink, right? But what happens if you first shake up the soda can, over and over, throwing it up, down, around and around? When you open it, it EXPLODES!

Think of yourself as that soda can. Is it better to let your feelings out right away, or let them stay bouncing around inside you for a long time before they finally spurt out, making a big mess?

When you're in the grieving process, keeping your thoughts and emotions inside will pretty much just make them worse. You might even develop physical problems, like headaches or stomachaches, because your body just can't handle all those intense feelings stuck inside it.

Cry It Out
If someone you love has died, you'll probably feel like crying more than you ever have before. It won't be the "I've stubbed my toe" crying or the "I lost a game" crying, either. It will be serious sobbing that may feel uncontrollable and overwhelming. Here's what the experts say about that:

LET IT GO, LET IT OUT

You may feel like you have to "be strong" or "keep it together," especially if people around you are trying to do the same. But crying exists for a reason. It's a physical process that helps us release our pain and sadness.

Some people who are dealing with death find that they can cry more easily in sessions with a therapist, others only cry when they're alone, and others only cry in group sessions with people who are coping with the same thing. However you need to do it, DO IT. It's simple: crying will make you feel better, even if only for a few minutes at a time-and that's really important.

Talk It Out
One of the best ways to let out your emotions is to simply talk about them. There may be times when you really feel like being alone with your thoughts, but talking to people you can rely on and trust can be a big help. When you talk about something, you're admitting that it exists. Once you admit it exists, you can start dealing with it. Here are some people you can consider talking to:

Family members: If someone you love has died, chances are that your family members are going through many of the same emotions you are. It can help to talk to them about your memories and feelings, and to remind each other that you're all experiencing this together.

A close friend: Your friend may not fully understand what you're going through, but if that friend really cares for you, he or she will listen to what you have to say. Sometimes just asking him or her to listen, and not give advice or opinions, will give you the chance you need to express yourself. If the person you lost was a friend, it will help to connect with others he or she was friends with, who are feeling the same pain.

A religious leader: It can be helpful to talk to your priest, pastor, rabbi, or other religious leader. These men and women have talked to many, many people who are dealing with death, and can counsel you on the process of grieving. Since grieving is a time when most people think a lot about faith, spirituality, and the afterlife, a religious leader can also help you sort through your feelings and beliefs on these subjects.

A therapist or counselor: These are professionals who are trained to help you talk through whatever you're feeling or thinking about. In a therapist's office, you can feel free to say whatever you want, and he or she must keep it confidential. Therapists have dealt with other kids going through grief, and can offer many ideas for dealing with emotions and other difficulties at home or school.

Other kids dealing with grief: Many organizations and groups hold special meetings where young people can get together to share thoughts and ideas, participate in activities, or just spend time together. This is called "group counseling" or "group," and it can be very, very helpful. By meeting other kids who are going through almost the same thing, you will feel like you're not alone in your grief. It's likely that you'll feel more comfortable talking to these kids than to your friends at school because they might better understand where you're coming from.

To find support groups in your area, contact the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Teens at www.dougy.org.

Remember:

  • If you're not ready to talk about it, don't force yourself.
  • Nobody has all the answers, especially about death and dying.

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