YA Story – The Grieving Process | Young Adult Mag


It was a warm summer day, Jamal could remember it very clearly. He and his younger brother, Julian, had been playing with each other out in the front yard. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was shining brightly. He had been playing catch with his younger brother to break in the mitt that Julian had gotten for his birthday. Then it all happened so quickly. He threw the ball and Julian didn’t catch it, so it started to roll out in the street. Julian ran out after it, not seeing the car that was driving towards them. Jamal tried to run out after his brother and push him out of the way, but it was too late. The car hit both of them.

Jamal woke up in the hospital. He had suffered a broken arm, a broken leg, and a concussion. He asked about Julian and was told that his brother was in the intensive care unit. Julian suffered multiple injuries and was in a coma. They wheeled Jamal through the hospital to sit with his brother, but Julian didn’t open his eyes. He just lay there quietly, hooked up to machines, breathing in and out.


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It turns out the driver that hit them was drunk, at three o’clock in the afternoon. It was a middle-aged man who had just lost his job. He was very upset that he hit the children. He expressed his apologies to the family and offered to pay for all the hospital expenses, as well as to set up college funds for both boys. Even though he had lost his job, he would find a way to get them the money. The family wasn’t ready to talk to him yet. They said they would see him in court.

A month later Jamal was out of the hospital and back to school, but his brother was still in the hospital. Jamal had a hard time concentrating this new school year. His mind kept wandering back to his brother and the accident that happened that summer. He would go to the hospital with his parents every day after school to sit with Julian and watch him breathe, waiting for him to wake back up.

Then one day, Jamal’s mom drove past the hospital on their way home from school. Jamal yelled, “Mom, Mom, what are you doing? We have to go see Julian! You drove past the hospital. We need to go back.” His mom said, “We’re not going today. Something important happened that we have to tell you about at home. You will see your brother some other time.” Though he was upset about not visiting the hospital, Jamal calmed down and waited quietly the rest of the way home.

When they arrived home, Jamal’s parents took him and sat him down at the kitchen table. “We know you’re a big boy,” Jamal’s father said, “so we have to tell you some grown-up news.” He then looked at Jamal’s mother, she then said, “Jamal, your brother died today.” Jamal couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It must not have been the truth. It couldn’t be the truth. He had just seen Julian the day before, breathing in and out at the hospital. His parents must be playing a very bad joke on him. “That’s not true,” he said, “you’re lying.” His dad said, “No Jamal, we’re not lying. Julian died today while you were at school.” Jamal looked at his mother and yelled, “You’re lying and it’s not funny! You’re just saying this because you don’t feel like driving to the hospital after school anymore!” Jamal’s mom started crying, and his dad gave him a stern look. Jamal ran up to his bedroom and locked the door.

“How could this be true?” he thought. Hadn’t he just seen Julian the day before, alive? Hadn’t the same drunk man in the same car hit both of them? Then why was Jamal alive while his little brother was dead? It didn’t seem real. It all seemed like some strange nightmare that should never come true. Jamal wanted to cry, he felt like he was supposed to cry, but for some reason he couldn’t cry. It just didn’t seem real.

The next day, Jamal went to school as if nothing had happened. He sat quietly in his seat, the only noticeable difference was that he didn’t talk to any of his friends. The teacher caught Jamal staring out the window and not paying attention to her lectures. Jamal’s teacher the last year said he was one of her best students, but this teacher certainly didn’t see that. The teacher, Miss Willow, pulled Jamal aside. She asked Jamal if something was wrong, and he told her that his brother had been in the hospital and died the day before. She got a very concerned look on her face, and told Jamal that if he needed to talk about anything, he could talk to her. Jamal shook his head and walked away to buy his lunch.

Jamal’s mom picked him up from school that day, and once again they passed by the hospital. This made Jamal feel a little upset, but he stayed quiet. When they got home, he passed by his brother’s closed door on the way to his own room. He decided to peek inside. He saw his brother’s blue bedspread, his favorite dump truck toy, and the new baseball bat Julian had gotten for his birthday that they hadn’t even gotten a chance to play with. Suddenly, Jamal became very angry. He picked up the baseball bat and started hitting his brother’s bed. He was so mad that the drunk man had taken his brother’s life away. He would never get to play with his brother with that bat.

Hearing all the noise, Jamal’s mother ran up the stairs. At first she was very upset and about to yell at Jamal, but she knew he was doing this because he was grieving for his brother. Instead, she stopped Jamal from hitting the bed, and held him in her arms. “Why are you doing that to your brother’s bed?” she asked. “I’m just so angry!” said Jamal, “I’m just so hurt! I will never get to play with Julian again.” Jamal’s mom told him that everything was going to be okay; Julian was in Heaven now, and Jamal would get to see him again one day. This calmed Jamal down a bit, but he was still angry.

Jamal’s family went to church on Sunday, and Jamal went to Sunday School with the other kids. When they broke up into small groups, he pulled one of the youth pastors aside and said he needed to talk to him. Paul, the pastor, knew what had happened with Jamal’s brother, so told Jamal they could step into his office to talk privately. Jamal asked Paul why his brother had died. He wanted to know why God chose his brother to die and not him. He wanted to know why God let the drunk man hit him. Paul tried to be gentle, even though Jamal was clearly angry and upset. “Sometimes,” he said to Jamal, “God works in ways we cannot understand. He gives and he takes away. It was your brother’s time, and nothing could have changed that. You couldn’t have changed that, and neither could anyone else.” Jamal understood Paul’s words, but couldn’t help but add, “I would give anything to change the way that day happened. What if we hadn’t gone outside to play? What if we played with the basketball instead of the baseball? What if I had thrown the ball a little better and Julian had caught it, and it hadn’t rolled out in the street?” Paul assured Jamal that it was not his fault, and peace would come with time.

Finally, weeks after Julian’s death, Jamal cried for the first time. It was really hitting him. He didn’t have a little brother anymore. He would never have Julian to play with, again. Jamal became depressed and tried to stay home from school, but his mom said he had to go. He didn’t like feeling like this.

Finally, the springtime came back around. With all the blooming flowers and baby animals, Jamal just couldn’t be sad anymore. He smiled for the first time in months. Jamal’s family was also moving on. His mother was pregnant, this time with a girl! Everybody in the neighborhood was so excited for them. They had even picked out a name for her: Juliana, after her brother. Jamal knew that Julian would have been so excited to have a little sister. He could think about Julian without being upset now. He accepted the fact that he would never see his brother again in this life, but preferred to think of their happy times together than the sadness of his death. After the announcement of the baby, Jamal’s family decided to visit Julian’s grave. They left pretty spring flowers, and Jamal wrote a letter to Julian telling him about his new baby sister.