Wednesday, January 6, 2021

How to Help Your Teenager Deal With Grief

We’ve been fortunate enough to visit places all over the world that memorialize those who have been lost, including famous monuments, and even Arlington National Cemetary.  But, seeing loss from the perspective of a tourist is different than dealing with it in your own life, no matter your age. 

Unfortunately, far too many parents focus on making sure their young children are okay during a loss (which is important), and they don’t pay as much attention to their older kids/teenagers. 

The truth is, teens can be just as susceptible to struggling with loss. Now, more than ever, we are starting to see the mental health effects of loss on teenagers, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely hard on teenagers who have missed out on the normalcy of school, sports, friendships, and so much more. 

You have to remember that grief isn’t always due to death. It can be caused by the loss of anything. So, if your teenager is struggling, how can you help them? Let’s go over a few helpful and effective tips. 


Acknowledge Them

Teens want to be seen and heard. They want to be understood. That can be difficult to do under normal circumstances, but especially when they’re dealing with grief. 

One of the best things you can do is simply to make sure you’re listening. They may not always want to talk about what they’re feeling, and you shouldn’t push them. But, it’s important to open doors for conversations as often as possible. Let them know that you see them, you hear what they’re saying, and you understand how they’re feeling when they decide to express themselves. 

You don’t need to be able to give perfect advice to make a difference in your teen’s life. You know how good it feels to have someone listen to you and truly understand what you’re saying. Think about how great it will feel for your teenager to be able to confide in you and know they are really being heard. 

Be Patient and Available

As stated above, your teen may not always come to you with open arms and a willingness to talk. Forcing a conversation is one of the worst things you can do. Obviously, if you see any dangerous warning signs, confronting your teen about their feelings is important. But, if they just don’t seem like themselves or you’re not sure how they’re doing, don’t try to squeeze information out of them. 

Instead, show patience. Make sure your teenager knows that you’re available for them any time they’d like to talk. It’s easy to get caught up in your own life, especially when you’re dealing with problems. But, if your teen feels like you’re too busy or distracted, they probably won’t approach you to talk. Making yourself available is a good way to get them to open up. 

Let Them Know Their Feelings Are Normal

Although many people talk about the “stages of grief,” the truth is that the grief process is different for everyone. One of the reasons your teenager might be struggling is because they feel like what they’re experiencing isn’t “normal”. 

Make sure to validate their feelings as much as possible. Make sure they know that there isn’t one “right” way to grieve. As long as they aren’t taking part in any unhealthy behaviors or harming themselves or others, their feelings are normal. 

Work Through the Grief

If your teenager is grieving over the loss of a loved one, anything from talking about that person to creating a keepsake like memorial jewelry from can help them to find the strength to move on. If they’re mourning the loss of their normal lifestyle and the things they’ve missed out on, talk to them about what they would have liked to do, and how missing so many things makes them feel. 

Grief is perfectly normal in situations of loss. But, it is something that you have to work through. Rarely will feelings of grief go away on their own. Thankfully, you can be the guide for your teenager, helping them to get through those stages of grief at their own pace. When you commit to being there every step of the way, you’ll get to experience your teenager coming to life again, opening up, and finding happiness as they leave their grief behind. 

No matter what type of loss your teenager is facing, it’s important not to ignore their feelings. While you should still make sure your young children are going through the process in a healthy way, your teenager needs your help just as much. Use some of the ideas here to help them through that process and make sure they have what they need to grieve in a healthy way. 

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