I’ll be frank: We’ve had the opportunity to talk to dozens of incredibly amazing, inspiring, and downright impressive high school/college students and recent grads, but Vivian Nunez is in a league of her own. Want to learn more about the important work she’s doing? Read on. Seriously.
What is Too Damn Young, and what inspired you to start it?
Vivian Nunez: Too Damn Young is a website for teens and young adults who have lost someone, are grieving and are looking for a resource and a community to belong to. I lost my mom when I was 10 years old, so from 10 to 21 my parent was my maternal grandmother. During the spring semester of my senior year of college my grandmother passed away. At this point, I was lucky enough to have met two other people my age who had lost a parent, so I was able to lean on them a lot. They just got it in a way my other friends didn’t. This got me thinking of teenagers and other young adults out there who may not have this built in support system or community when they lose someone. Too Damn Young was born from my desire to let others know they’re not alone.
What are some of the biggest problems that young people face when losing loved ones, and how can they cope?
VN: Losing someone is a very isolating event. No one really knows what you’re going through and it’s hard to open up to others about this because talking about grief or loss is unfortunately still very taboo. Through the years I’ve also found that because the topic is so off limits, no one really acknowledges the day-to-day reality you live through if you lose someone you love.
For instance, when I was applying for colleges and filling out financial aid papers, the forms were not user friendly for someone who didn’t have a traditional family (“traditional” in this case is [having] one or two parents) and this made the process even more frustrating and emotional for me.
What kinds of resources does Too Damn Young offer?
VN: Too Damn Young is your 24/7 grief companion. We completely acknowledge that the way you grieve is very much your own, the only thing that brings us together as a community is the fact that we’ve all lost someone. On the website, we take this idea of the same starting point to get as many stories and voices published, this way every one has something to relate to. We write about everything from what to do when you go off to college and have to tell new friends about your loss to interviews with singer-songwriters, like Joel Crouse, who’ve written songs we can all relate to.
How can students get involved with Too Damn Young?
VN: We always welcome new members to our community. Most of those involved usually write for the site about their own personal experiences or how to pieces that can help others get through a tough spot. If you’re not really a writer but have another skill you’d love to volunteer to Too Damn Young you can definitely reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do you see yourself and Too Damn Young in five years?
VN: In five years I hope Too Damn Young will have been able to help, and connect with, hundreds of teens and young adults. I hope I’m still leading the charge in five years to change the conversation around grief so that fewer and fewer teens have to feel alone with their loss.