How to Help a Grieving Teen
The loss of a loved one can be very hard for anyone, but it can be particularly taxing on a teenager already struggling to navigate through the daily changes in their lives.
If you have a grieving teen, it’s important to remember some important ways to help them cope with their grief, and when it’s time to intervene with a professional such as a troubled teen online program or a residential teen program. See below for some great ideas on how to help a grieving teen in your life.
Keep a sense of normalcy. Nobody wants to have everyone walking on eggshells around them. It’s important to be sensitive at this time, and tactful with words, but it’s also important to keep treating your teen the way you always would have. Keeping the schedule and conversation as normal as possible will let them know that you acknowledge their feelings, but that you don’t want them to feel bad about wanting life to continue.
Don’t force anything. Everyone grieves differently, and there’s no exception for teenagers. Some may want to talk about everything or be very open with how they are feeling and their struggles. Others may prefer to wait until they are ready to talk to someone about what they are feeling or may not feel comfortable sharing with someone close to the situation. This is a great reason to hire a counselor if you think it’s necessary, but the best thing at first is to give space and time.
Give them ideas for a memorial. If they are looking for a way to channel their grief into something positive, try to give them some ideas on how they can create a physical memorial to their lost loved one. It can be anything as small as a t-shirt or as large as organizing a charity event in their memory.
Surround them with friends. Often, a grieving teen will want to be surrounded by peers who will understand how they are feeling as opposed to the adults. If they shut you out, do not worry. They are likely just using the outlet of their friends to talk about their issues. If you fear they may be internalizing too much or not communicating with anyone, you may want to try something like a teen summer camp or wilderness camp where they can meet new people their age, and be in a place where they can reflect in peace and away from their normal environment.
Keep the conversations honest. If you are dealing with an inevitable death such as a terminal illness or someone of advanced age, then don’t try to hide what is happening. Your teen is smart enough to be included in the honest conversation, and being fully prepared for a loss can cut down on resentment later as they grieve.