- Family and Parenting
The Grieving Teenager
Every Life Leads Down a Unique Path
It can be difficult to understand why some families seem to breeze by tragedies while others seem to be subjected to more than their fair share of them. Hopefully, by the time we have become adults we have had enough life experience and introverted conversations with ourselves about how to cope with our own mortality and have come to some modicum of a decision on how we will handle grief when it befalls us.
Teenagers are often accused of living in a 'different world' as adults do and to some extent this is positively true. Our teen years can be full of life, love, and ignorant bliss, or they can be overburdened with strife, confusion, and periods of depression. For many teens, their lives are a workable combination of both types.
The death of a parent, loved one, or a school pal can change your teen. Sometimes in ways that are positive, sometimes in manners that are not. The most important things to remember as a parent or guardian during these difficult times are compassion, kindness, and communication.
The Three Types of Grief
What Type of Grief is Your Teen Suffering?
There are three types of grief that we may all be forced to contend with at some point in our lives.
A swift and unexpected loss can exceed the coping abilities of persons of any age. Often it can result in feelings of shock and overwhelmingly powerful moments of emotional pain and confusion. Even though the person is fully aware that a loved one is gone, it may still take them much longer to fully comprehend what that will mean in their daily lives.
When a loved one has been ill for a long time, or a death is anticipated in the short or longer terms, it may be just as difficult to cope with initially, as it also brings the sudden loss confusion with it at first glance. However, after a period of time, the person has a bit of leeway when it comes to having time to 'come to terms' with how the eventual loss of that loved one will affect them. In a huge way, this allows their psyche to prepare the heart for when the loss does occur, but also can bring a survivors grief along with that loss, most especially when long-term suffering ends with a sense of relief.
A period of grieving can be confusing for any person and often it does not progress as others may have expected it to. Sometimes, the intensity or duration of a persons grief can begin to interfere with an individuals ability to function. Out of character actions or extreme mood swings can be dangerous signs for those suffering from intense grief, and very often this type of complicated grief does not diminish on its own.
How to Cope with Grieving Stages in Your Teen
Be open. Regardless of the specific age of your teen, you will need to supply them with the answers to any questions they may ask, to the best of your ability. If you find yourself ultimately unable to convey the most vital messages in the grief process, such as:
- Individual Mortality
- Moment of Death
- Survivor Guilt
- Pain and suffering
- The Fragility of Life
- Religious Doctrines
You may want to consider finding a professional, a helpful website, or your personal religious leader to help counsel your teen through some of those difficult issues.
In addition, if your teen seems to be processing their grief appropriately, you may need only follow a few tips to help them continue through the process to a mentally healthy outcome.
Support Tips for Your Grieving Teen
Things to Keep in Mind When Communicating
Be available and be ready to listen. Listening is the key, do not interject points of your opinion on any matters.
- To show you are listening provide prompt words or phrases that let them know you are still 'with' them, but try to avoid mentioning your own personal experiences and wisdom, unless specifically asked to share.
- Keep in mind your loved ones religion, culture, and personal perspective on the loss itself. This can give you the perspective you need to respond the most appropriately and helpfully. Try not to discount your teens spiritual ideas, whether you agree with them or not.
- Do not tell them that their grief is inappropriate or that they are 'doing it wrong.'
- Acknowledge mentions of change. Make sure that any conversation about how things will change are met with confirmation that they will in fact, be different. Providing denial at the mention of change will only serve to prolong the grieving persons process.
- Be specific when you offer help and be assertive, but not aggressive, about your offer if the person seems reluctant.
- Take notes of important dates or holidays with that person. Listen if they need to vent about what they miss about them most on those days.
Check in and stick around. Be a presence in your teens life without being a nuisance. When you check in their rooms to offer them lunch, do not simply offer and leave, and certainly do not badger. However, it is important to try to bring 'everyday' conversation into the conversation whenever possible. Example: "So you do not need any lunch right now? Just let me know if you get hungry, and be sure to remember to set your clock in the morning. Even if this effort is met with your teens exasperation on how you can possibly think of an alarm clock at a time like this, it is important to interject, not inflict, as much reality and regular ritual as possible.
No Teen Likes a Book
But if Communication is Suffering, it May be the Best Bet
If communications with your teen since the loss have suffered immensely, to the point where you may be considering therapy as the only possible resolution, you may want to consider the purchase of a book on teen grieving. Although many teens may not be big fans of reading, the introspective natures of teens suffering through the grief process sometimes lends itself to creating the perfect opportunity for a teen to discover self-help.
Any parent or guardian of a teen knows the immense frustration of having a teen who will take anyone's advice but your own. This is an unpleasant part of the growth process for many teens, and is unlikely to be changed by grief. You may have all the experience in the world, and in fact, your worldly experience may be why they would rather hear their advice from sources that are closer to their peers. In these cases, you should consider the purchase of a book for teen grieving that can help them walk through the process themselves, without feeling like they have to lean on anyone in their realm of reality.
In this way there is only one way help. There is no judgement, back talk, or even just conversation that some grieving teens tend to grow a quick aversion to during the grief process. No parent or peer can look down upon them or giggle at their private efforts to process their grief. Helpful personal remedies to grieve will not be subject to the cruelties of others.
Real Life Grief Stories from One Teen to Another
This book has proven itself an excellent self-help healing tool for many youths suffering from the loss of a loved one. It walks teens through several processes that are healthy to the grieving process as well as great tips for higher living, with or without a spiritual anchor. Written in Agnostic format, it is appropriate for all faiths or those with little claim to it at all.
This book tells the true stories of the three different types of losses suffered by the author during her teen years. She has condensed the10 year period that it took to process her grief into all of the helpful ideas, actions, and events that truly healed her overwhelming grief from three devastating losses.
Get the Ebook for Free Below!
Cover Me; Grief Self-Help and Instruction for Teens
- Cover Me: Living, Loving and Learning Through Loss, by Joy Basham-Lynskey
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