A student and friend of my brother died in a bad car wreck early yesterday morning. He was 15. They were in marching band together, and I know the bond that creates as I was in band when I was in high school. I also used to be very involved with my brother’s band. While I did not know the kid personally (although I may have definitely met him before/helped him move equipment) I am extremely upset and distressed by his death. When I was in high school, on the last day of my junior year, three kids died in the most horrific car crash that I have ever seen. I had known one of the kids for about 4 years, but we were not close. Now with the 15 year old’s death, I am extremely upset, but because I did not know him, I don’t feel like I have the right to be. I also feel like this could’ve easily been my brother instead. I have other friends who have similar relations to this kid, and they are not nearly as affected by his death as I am. How can I cope with his death when I don’t feel like I have the right to feel this way?
I know, "it could have been my brother (but it wasn't)" doesn't feel good to think, but everybody experiences it sometimes when death passes close to you. It's ok to feel bad for him, his family, his friends, there's a lot of pain involved in this and it can be hard to not let it affect you. After all, you can mourn that you will never get to know him. Things that can help you are participating in the rituals, express your condolences to his family, let yourself experience the pain for a while, talking to your brother about it, contemplating how life is short and erratic and you should not hold back on loving your loved ones. If you see that you are still affected in a few weeks, writing letters (that you will not send) directed at the deceased expressing your feelings can help.