December 16th, 2014

Teenager’s experiences and expressions of grief vary greatly. Some teenagers

Copyright: dbirdinparadise / 123RF Stock Photo

will experience shock and denial, even disbelieving that the death has occurred. Others might show very few signs of grieving. Keep the following points in mind as you help your teen deal with grief:

  • Respect the form and time that your teen takes to grieve.
  • Assist your teen in expressing thoughts openly, on the teen’s terms, not yours. Encourage your teen to share feelings, even if they are scary, unusual, and frightening.
  • Help your teen by gathering articles, old pictures, and old stories about the dead person. Some people even suggest making a collage as a way of helping the healing process.
  • Be as present and available as you can to your teen. Many teenagers feel neglected when people, especially parents, and close family members aren’t physically and emotionally there for them. (The neglect sometimes happens because the teen’s grief may make others feel anxiety about death and thus may give in to the desire to avoid the teenager).
  • Look for signs of hyper-sexuality, drug abuse, risky behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts or plans which are pathological expressions of grief.
  • Involvement in a grief support group can be very important for a teenager and surviving relatives. Support can be in groups devoted to dealing with grieving – groups that may involve only peers or the whole family. The sense of belonging to a group provides a safe place to talk about feelings and lessens the sense of isolation and sadness that are normal parts of the grieving process.
  • Listen to your teen. Be supportive and don’t immediately try to fix it. Work together through your grief.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members, mental health professionals or friends. Be sure to contact a mental health professional if you feel there is a deep depression or suicidal thoughts or plans.
  • Lastly, be sure that your attitudes about death are as healthy as possible to set a good example for your teenager. As always, we affect teens more by what we do and how we act than by what we say.

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.