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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Is Overcome by Grief at Teen's Death

DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old son passed away unexpectedly a month ago. Because he was short for his age, he had been bullied during middle and high school. After a minor argument with my husband and me, he contacted a neighborhood kid who sold him powerful painkillers. This was, to my knowledge, the first time he did this, and I don't think he realized how devastating the effects could be. (We had previously discussed the dangers of prescription drugs, but it seems this was an impulsive decision.)

My husband and 19-year-old daughter are reeling from this tragedy, and we're all in therapy now. I need to know if you have any advice on how to grieve. I'm feeling so lost and still in shock, and I have appreciated reading your advice over the years. -- STILL IN SHOCK IN COLORADO

DEAR STILL: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved son. The circumstances of his death make it even more difficult to understand and cope. Fortunately, there is help and support for families who have lost a sibling or a child.

The Compassionate Friends is a group I have mentioned before in my column. Founded 50 years ago in England and incorporated in the United States in 1978, it exists to provide friendship, understanding and hope to parents who are going through the natural grieving process. To find a chapter near you, contact them online at or by calling 877-969-0010. Please don't wait.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death