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When a Teen is Grieving

Updated on March 2, 2008

Today's world can bring much sadness and grieving to our teens..with school shootings..and suicide..and drug over-doses to the young people.

Teens today face many pressures,decisions, and problems as a normal part of growing up.Like a death ,divorce, changing schools, friends moving away, or the break-up of a relationship.

So how can the parents or other caring adults be a support to a grieving teen?

Task # 1...Understanding and making sense of the death.

Task # 2...Grieving the loss.

Task # 3...Commemorating the life.

Task # 4...Going on with Life.

"Teens need to know that their grief is respected and understood."

Teens naturally react to loss in many expect to see changes,,,maybe Physical reactions: like stomachaches, headaches,appetite changes,distrubing dreams and changes in sleep patterns.

Increased sensitivity, silence and withdrawal are all possible Emotional reactions.Be an empathic listener as they may experience fear,anger, guilt,regret,confusion,and loneliness. encourage them to express their feelings.

They may experience Psychological reactions, such as missed school assignments, daydreaming, declining grades, loss of concentration and forgetfulness. These are all common. you can talk with their teachers and see if they can lower the load for a while.

Sometimes grieving teens withdraw from family, friends, and activities..It is not one that usually lasts for long, but be aware and watch for signs them associating with troubled teens,drug or alcohol use, as well as sexual or criminal activity.


Encourage teens to express their struggles..for instance they may question God...Or ask "why did this happen"..."why her"..'"why me" don't be judgmental..remember teens need patience, love and acceptance.

Remember it's hard being a teen. I sure do..and seems things were easier when I was one.During this time we are experiencing many emotional, physical and psychological changes. dealing with "should we drink with our friends?" Or no thank you I don't care for drugs..then there is smoking..everyone is doing it..and of course Sex..So when a major loss happens it becomes even more complicated for them..So how can we help?

Always be available and simply listen. Quietly listening and not saying anything can help them feel they can vent and safely express their feeling to you.To communicate that you are really listening(which many teens think we don't do) you can repeat what they are saying and in that way it will let them know you hear them. Or simply put yours arms around them hug them tightly and let them cry.."I know it hurts" whispered in their ears."just let it all out"

Learn about the grief process. . there are some good resources that discuss teenage grief. In her book LIFE & LOSS: A guide to help grieving children,Linda goldman writes about four tasks associated with teenage grief work. ( as stated above).

Some Basic Needs of Grieving***The Dougy Center***

Helping Teens Cope with Death. the list as follows:

Truth and nothing but the truth

Acceptance and love

Clear and reasonable boundaries

Privacy and space

Familiar routines

Time with friends

Power and freedom to choose

Sleep, a good diet, and water

We need to understand that some feelings can be scary..The guilty feelings about some circumstances surrounding a death,,being angry at oneself, parents and God..and not knowing how to handle them. they need to feel free to talk these feelings and work through them so they don't make harmful decisions.Mostly anger is one good way to release,,a punching bag, throwing eggs at a tree, screaming into a pillow,and always writing your feelings down are good ways to express innermost feelings.

And there is the Team approach..It is a good thing to go to a community counseling organization,there are centers that can help grieving teens..also talking with other teens..

Teens can be understood so be their rock to cling to by listening patiently and showing love and acceptence as you help them work through their grief.


Sources of additional help:

Books for Adults: Helping teens cope with death by The Dougy Center

Books for teenagers: Straight talk about Death For Teenagers by Earl A. Grollman

CareNotes for Teens: Grieving When You Love Someone Close by Marianna Kane Neal


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    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      rsrring....Thank you for this comment and I see you also joined my fan sweet...G-Ma :o) hugs

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      rsrring 9 years ago from Michigan

      G-Ma you are right on. Thank you for sharing and thanks for the great advice.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      thank You are new to me I appreciate your attention.. and hope you do well here. G-Ma :o)

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      vijayanths 9 years ago

      great hub G ma. this is really informative.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      stephhicks and violetsun...I also hope it may reach someone who needs it..but it can help all of us to help someone we know that may have this sorrow. Thanks for your nice comments G-Ma :o) hugs

      manoharv..what a wonderful poem? or saying? did you  write that yourself...I love it and take it as a compliment or at least a very friendly and caring reply Thank You G-Ma :o) hugs

      debby..thank You for your comment...I sometimes think the teens are forgotten cause they can be a handful...I know..but these days are so much more difficult ..well to me..then they used to be, but probably not to our parents.Hee Ha anyway a Thank you for your comment also...G-Ma :o) hugs

      And ripplemaker..yes it is difficult for anyone anytime..I just am thinking lately so much about our teens..a few other hubs I wrote was also directed to children about Sorrow and Anger and Forgiveness and so on.  Thank You sweetie for your kind words and your comments.. G-Ma :o) hugs

      Charlene..I totally agree with you and talking to almost anyone you trust can be a great thing. Love hurts..but love is necessary..God Bless G-Ma :o) hugs

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      G-Ma, experiencing loss is a difficult time for teens and for anybody for that matter. There is much wisdom in your hub - being able to talk to somebody who will listen does matter a lot. Thank you.

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      Charlene 9 years ago

      Merle i think the best way to deal with teens is show him your love, respect him, and tell him you`re always there for him if like totalk, he`s not alone.don`try to change him!!! the best way to get ityour informations are true SAincerel,Charlene

    • debby28 profile image

      debby28 9 years ago from WASHINGTON

      This is such good info. And so true.

    • manoharv2001 profile image

      Manoharan 9 years ago from Bangalore - 560097, Karnataka, India

      Good post.The Brain—is wider than the Sky—For—put them side by side—The one the other will containWith ease—and You—beside—

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This is a very helpful hub, G-ma! I hope it reaches those who need to read this.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      G-ma, this is so helpful and I hope that some teens or parents find this Hub!