Teens experience loss, start to look at life differently

Students gather to remember their friend Malachi Yoder who died in winter of 2019.

Teens hope it will never happen to them, but loss of a friend or mentor can take a toll on a teen personally and on a school community.

   In winter of 2019, junior Grace Drake, along with all the students in the school community, experienced a tragic loss of a former student Malachi Yoder. Not only did Yoder’s loss have an impact on the community, but specifically had an impact on his best friend. 

   “It has definitely made me a stronger person and helped me become more independent,” Drake said. 

   Drake’s experience with loss impacted her in her outlook on life. 

   ”He was my best friend in the entire world and so, after losing him, it was really hard, but it was also the realization that we’re not promised tomorrow, which is why I wanna live everyday to the fullest,” she said.

   Brylee Brewster, a sophomore, recently experienced a loss of a childhood friend, Ruby Griffin. Ruby attended Wheatland High School. Ruby and Brylee connected through a local softball team that they each played on together.     

  “Ruby was a great teammate and was such an amazing person that shared a special light, so when I heard about her loss, it really broke me and changed my outlook on life,” Brewster said. 

   By these two losses between two different districts, communities have leaned on each other. 

   In March of 2021, the Warsaw school community and the Warsaw baseball team experienced a sudden loss within the small town. WHS graduate and baseball coach, Bailey Jelinek, died in a car accident very unexpectedly. Jelinek was an assistant coach for the high school baseball team, along with a temporary substitute teacher within the school. Friends and family started the Bailey Christopher Jelinek Foundation and a scholarship fund. 

  “I think the loss of Bailey has brought the community together in many ways. The foundation is doing great things through the church and in the community,” baseball coach Johnny Eierman said. 

    As students and staff members start to experience such tragedy and grief of a lost one, there are certain ways that the school and counselors can help.

   “If there’s a big event, like a loss of a student, we’d call in extra counselors from the district and also maybe from areas in other districts as well to help support in those situations,” counselor Tyler Richardson said. 

   During the time that students seek help, Richardson said he often lets them talk and move through the seven stages of grief.

   ”I really try to accomplish those seven stages, giving them coping strategies to deal with their loss. In this day and age where we live, the younger generation seems to not attend funerals much, so when there’s a loss, the younger generation doesn’t know how to deal with that. Which is what I try to help them with through those situations, is dealing with that grief that feels like it’s never going away,” Richardson said. 

   By the many recent deaths that have happened within the counties surrounding Warsaw, students and faculty value life a little differently.

    “It definitely makes you appreciate life and take in the little things,” Eierman said.