The Voices of Youth

On Wednesday evening we attended our local theatre complex for performances from some of the local high schools.  It was called “Take Over” and the theme was ‘Thinking Big and Global’.  There were three schools involved, each presenting two short plays.  We went because my grandson was in one of them, but it wasn’t in any way the boring or ho hum performances that we’ve sat through in the past (in the name of support your grandchildren).

The students were from Years nine through to  Year 12.  No costumes, but most groups dressed the same, minimal props and each play was limited to twenty minutes.

Starting off with the students views on a variety  of related subjects such as  Earth Hour, Parity — more views on gender roles, Belonging — which was about arriving in a strange land, a refugees viewpoint.  Then there was the Cycle which showcased poverty, gender inequality, domestic violence and the effects on the family.  Other topics covered were slavery, domestic violence and the judgment of others by their appearance.

One group asked the question “What would happen if we looked at things from a different perspective?  What would happen if we stopped judging people by their appearances?”

The final group tackled the Seven Deadly Sins — of Social Media!  Really entertaining and enlightening.

On the whole it was a very thought provoking evening, and we were well entertained.  But what struck me the most was that here is a group of people whose views on life  we largely ignore.  I’m not suggesting that we don’t take any notice of them, but from ages fourteen to seventeen we are busy organising their lives with school, sports and music lessons.  Complaining about their focus on devices and social media, nagging them to participate in family chores, but not really looking or listening to their views on current affairs.

They certainly have them, but I believe a lot of the time we don’t bother to ask their opinion.  They often go unheard as we parents (from memory) are involved in the manic race to provide a home, food  and ‘good’ schooling for our growing children.  To get them ready for the ‘real world’ when they finish school.

We worry about the world we’ve brought these young adults into, and bemoan the fact that there is racism, terrorism, violence, bullying and so on.

Are we typecasting them as being addicted to war games, social media and sloth?  What if we really looked at what we have, and appreciated it as it is.  What sort of examples are we really setting for them?

I notice that although my grandson appears to be absorbed in his computer or phone, he can still tell me what is going on in the TV show thats running! (Note to self — don’t talk about him even though he doesn’t seem to be listening!)

Suicide is a tragedy at any age, but never more so when it takes our youth.  I don’t have all the answers, but listening to those young people on Thursday evening was quite inspiring.  It gave me an abundance of food for thought.

As one of the groups suggested — perhaps we could

‘Accept the whole world and never lose hope.’

 

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Death & Dying

There is a vast difference between dying, and death.

I guess we are all dying – some of us take longer to do it than others.  For the past few weeks we have been watching my father-in-law move to the end stages of his long life, he was ninety two and a half.  What an amazing life he lived, although he had just been going through the motions for the last few years since mum died.  He missed her terribly every day, so although it was sad, it was also a blessing to think he is now at peace and with the love of his life at last.

Years ago I read Simone de Beauvoir’s book A Very Easy Death, in which she talked about her mother dying.  She was affronted when the nurses talked about her death as being very easy.  She didn’t see it that way, most likely because she was looking at it through the eyes of a loved one.  From a nursing perspective, there are ‘easy’ deaths, and there are difficult ones.      They weren’t being unkind when they said it was easy, just stating a fact as they saw it.

Looking back on the last few weeks of Dads life, it probably wasn’t that easy, but looking at it from a nursing point of view – when I put my old nurses cap on – it wasn’t too difficult either.   And he seemed to be at peace.   When you compare the death of an aged loved one to the sudden unexpected death of a child, they are worlds apart.

Sudden death in young people will always be a tragedy, whereas a person who has lived a long and full life is going to be an expected one.  A young death is tragic and a waste of untapped potential.  A death such as dad’s is looked on as the end of a long journey, filled with interesting experiences  – and as we write his eulogy – many stories to tell.           When we come to his funeral we will be looking back on a life well-lived.  We will share precious moments as we remember, funny ones too.  There will be sadness and probably a few more tears shed because of our loss.

However when I think back to the immediate days after Kelly’s death, we also shared precious and funny moments, but the grief was intense for a life gone too soon.  A life that still had so much living to do, and we mourned that with a much deeper level of sadness than we mourn dad.

As a mother I mourned the loss of my baby – even though she was twenty – and for the dreams and hopes I had for my child.  As a daughter-in-law I mourn at a much lighter level for a man who pined for his mate, his partner of sixty plus years and the love of his life.  We will celebrate that life, even as we celebrate for him as he leaves us to join his love.

It is simple, and something we knew would happen, compared to Kelly’s sudden end, which we are still coming to terms with after sixteen years.  We – her immediate family – will most likely still be grieving for her in another sixteen years time, whereas with dad, we will be content because he lived past his life expectancy.

We will still miss him, but he will be remembered with fondness and love, rather than disappointment and grief.