Tonight I had dinner with a family from one of my congregations. There are three sons in this family, the oldest is about to turn 21, and the youngest is about 17 or 18. They are delightful young men who seem to have somehow found the balance between being tough, country blokes, and gentle, thoughtful young men.
The reason I was asked over for dinner, was to talk to the boys (and as it turned out, also 2 of their friends) about grief.
On Saturday night, all three of the boys were at a 21st birthday party about 2 hours' drive from home, and on the way home, one of the friends they were travelling in convoy with had an accident and was killed. He was 21.
The five young people at dinner tonight were the first ones at the scene, and now have the bond of that shared experience. This evening I observed the 5 of them talking to each other about Saturday night; things that happened at the party, the conversations they'd had with other people from their circle of friends who needed to be informed of this boy's death, the reactions of various people to the news, and some of their own memories of the boy who died.
After we finished eating the mother of the household asked me to say a few words to the kids about the processes of grief, and what might be in store for them as time moves on, which I did. But the bottom line was that they have already been doing what is necessary and healthy for them at this stage of things - talking to each other about what happened, and how they feel about it all.
The relationships that they share with one another, and others in their peer group in the local area are quite close, and I think this shared experience will bring these 5 even closer. The level of solidarity and support they have shown for each other is something of which I think much older and more experienced adults would be envious.
It was a great privilege to spend some time with these young people, and I'm proud of how they're dealing with this very painful and difficult experience.