15 year-old McKenzie Wilson died on Tuesday suddenly. She was a Bolles School student entering her sophomore year and is reported her sudden death involved inflammation around the brain.
A Pray for McKenzie Wilson Facebook group for Wilson already over 800 members, many sending messages to Wilson and her family, like one who called McKenzie an "inspiration to many" and another describing her as a "a gorgeous girl inside and out."
McKenzie Wilson was a softball player and cheerleader as well as active in the fellowship of Christian Athletes. On Tuesday evening there was a vigil at Bolles School where many friends, family and the community expressed their loss, love and memories.
There will be counselors available at Bolles School in Jacksonville next week as school begins.
KidsHealth for Teens offers tips to help teens deal with grief:
- Remember that grief is a normal emotion. Know that you can (and will) heal over time.
- Participate in rituals. Memorial services, funerals, and other traditions help people get through the first few days and honor the person who died.
- Be with others. Even informal gatherings of family and friends bring a sense of support and help people not to feel so isolated in the first days and weeks of their grief.
- Talk about it when you can. Some people find it helpful to tell the story of their loss or talk about their feelings. Sometimes a person doesn't feel like talking, and that's OK, too. No one should feel pressured to talk.
- Express yourself. Even if you don't feel like talking, find ways to express your emotions and thoughts. Start writing in a journal about the memories you have of the person you lost and how you're feeling since the loss. Or write a song, poem, or tribute about your loved one. You can do this privately or share it with others.
- Exercise. Exercise can help your mood. It may be hard to get motivated, so modify your usual routine if you need to.
- Eat right. You may feel like skipping meals or you may not feel hungry, but your body still needs nutritious foods.
- Join a support group. If you think you may be interested in attending a support group, ask an adult or school counselor about how to become involved. The thing to remember is that you don't have to be alone with your feelings or your pain.
- Let your emotions be expressed and released. Don't stop yourself from having a good cry if you feel one coming on. Don't worry if listening to particular songs or doing other activities is painful because it brings back memories of the person that you lost; this is common. After a while, it becomes less painful.
- Create a memorial or tribute. Plant a tree or garden, or memorialize the person in some fitting way, such as running in a charity run or walk (a breast cancer race, for example) in honor of the lost loved one.