by Leatrice Burphy, Guest Blogger
There are no words to adequately describe the heartbreaking and tragic ending to a life short lived. Bobbi Kristina was one of too many young women in the grieving girls club, whose cry for help was often ignored or misunderstood. Her death is a grim reminder to every adult; children cannot cope with loss or emotional trauma without a support system. When there is a lack of guidance in a grieving child’s life, they tend to look for love, comfort, and refuge from the wrong people and influences. This is a wake-up call for America. Sometimes, your love and pep talks are not enough to save a young person impacted by tragedy.
I read once, “Grief is the most powerful emotion, yet it is the one emotion, we are taught the least about in our society.” In the light of all that is happening in the country right now, it’s time to start an open dialogue with our younger generation about this silent killer. The truth is, you never get over a death, it is something you learn to live with. Grief does not get better with time, it just gets different.
Often the “forgotten grievers” in our culture, people underestimate how fragile and vulnerable young people can be in that state of mind. Bereavement puts them at a higher risk for alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, mental illness, violent behavior, suicide, promiscuity, truancy, and the list goes on. Because children and teens are not taught how to handle an emotional crisis beforehand, recovery is highly dependent on their support system. In some cases, this may require professional counseling.
We were given a glimpse into the private world of Bobbi Kristina after Whitney Houston died. While the reality show aired, there were red flags Bobbi Kristina was a ticking time bomb. What caused a greater concern for me, were the family and friends who acknowledged the problem, but did not stage an intervention. There should have been a unified force to get her into rehab and grief therapy. For a young person greatly affected by death, divorce, domestic violence, and addiction; she needed more than prayers, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.
Bobbi Kristina endured a life filled with anguish but did not have the mental capacity to cope with it. Studies show girls self-medicate to numb the pain and escape emotions caused from traumatic experiences. As a result, they will most likely battle drug and alcohol abuse. Often ridicule for being rebellious and out of control, this girl was actually hurting and crying out for help. The writing on the wall was crystal clear in her interview with Oprah, tweets on social media, and last text message. If there was an intervention for Bobbi Kristina, the outcome of her story could have been one that brought a smile to our faces, instead of tears to our eyes.
Burying a twenty-two-year-old whose potential we will never know, hits close to home. Like Bobbi Kristina, I am also a part of the grieving girls club. A year after my father lost his battle to illness; my brother was murdered at twenty-two. I had no idea that magnitude of pain existed, and it rocked me to the core. “Grief affects everything you do, and it can disrupt every aspect of your life, in ways you least expect.” But I can attest, therapy (creative or traditional) and a strong support system can save a young person’s life because it saved mine.
How can we fight for the girls, like Bobbi Kristina?
(1). We need to break the silence in our homes, schools, and communities because grief knows no boundaries.
(2). We need to advocate for laws that will require grief therapy for young people and grief training for the adults responsible for them.
(3). We need to create long-term grief support programs where our grieving youth can find a safe haven, in the company of their peers who understand their loss.
Just like I never stopped praying for Bobbi Kristina, I will never stop fighting for our future in the grieving girls club.
Leatrice Burphy is the founder of A LEGACY Left Behind, Inc. The 501 (C)(3) organization provides grief support and mentoring services to young ladies in the DC Metro Area who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling. Inspired to give a voice to children and teens who are often the “forgotten grievers” in our society, she has created a platform to raise awareness about the impact of grief among the younger generation and the lack of support programs and resources available to them. In 2014, Leatrice was honored with the Next Generation Award from the Business Resource TV (BR-TV) for her philanthropic work in the DC Metro Area. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the United Nations Association.