The institutionalisation of death has resulted in a collective misconstruction of grief within our society. People are unprepared to let the grieving take place and instead, there is an expectation that those grieving hide their emotional depth and avoid showing their vulnerability. This is particularly true for grieving teenagers who are too often treated as either children or adults, when they are not. It alienates them and may discourage them from talking and dealing with their grief in the way that they choose, or need, to do. At a time of enormous physical and mental changes, when they are reevaluating their self-identity and relationship with their parents or carers, the death of someone they are close to is devastating. Initial support is crucial and it is received from family and community during and shortly after a funeral. However, it is in the initial six to twelve months after a death, that most support is unavailable when it is needed most.
This project explores ways in which adolescents are able to experience grief at different times after a close death by proposing the use of storytelling and rituals through varying scenarios. In literature, both storytelling and rituals have been identified as a powerful resource for the personalisation of the grieving process. The scenarios proposed include three different grieving ritual experiences of; honouring the death, letting go and self-transformation.
The scenarios would allow teenagers to experience and deal with feelings of sorrow and grief which can come crashing down with a frightening intensity. Using a human-centred design approach the project allows the uncovering of the emotional and complex within grief. It allows adolescents the creation of their own journey with the awareness and skills to survive. Design adds value through the use of tools and methods in order to humanise the grieving experience.
Below is a GIF of the book ‘Without Expectations’ that I wrote for adolescents that are grieving.