Helping Your Teenager Deal with a Loss
Death is not always easily explainable or understandable, especially if it is unexpected. Dealing with the loss of someone close to you is never an easy situation, but it can be especially difficult for a teenager. Teens are going through physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that could already be taking a toll on them. This may also be the first time that they have ever had to deal with losing someone close to them. Trying to see the situation from their perspective can be a big help.
Even as adults, we often find ourselves at a loss when trying to cope with a difficult situation such as this. Imagine how your teenager must be feeling, not having the life experience, emotional maturity or tools that they need to express what they are going through. As an adult, it is your job to offer support in the best ways possible. Forcing your teen to talk may not be the answer. Instead, let them know that you are always there, ready to listen and answer any questions that they may have. Grief takes time and everyone has their own schedule.
Some teenagers may not know how to process the emotions they are experiencing and, as a result, start acting out. This can present itself in different forms, anything from aggression to depression. If you notice that your once normally happy go lucky teenager starts letting their grades drop, refuses to participate in activities that they used to show interest in, or seems overly sad and angry, these are definite signs that they are having issues dealing with their grief. Of course, the grieving process is different for everyone but with young adults, it is important that you keep an eye out for unusual behaviour. If you find yourself faced with these issues, there are usually support groups available in your community. Often times when we lose someone we love we find comfort in being with others that can relate to what we are going through. Teenagers are no exception. If a formal support group is too overwhelming, why not look to friends, family, or someone close to their age that will be able to relate?
Help is available from a variety of sources. Your local funeral director is always a great resource for referrals, or check out the organizations listed below.
Kids Help Phone
Children’s Mental Health Ontario
As well, check out these online worksheets. No one has to go through this alone. Reach out and get the help needed!