For young people, losing a loved one can be a particularly isolating experience. Perhaps you are the parent of an adolescent who has recently lost someone they loved. This could be another relative, a friend, or an important mentor or another adult in their life.

If this person was a member of your family, you might be simultaneously trying to manage your own grief. Supporting a teen or adolescent in this situation can be complex, but for a young person who is coping with grief, support from trusted adults is paramount.

No matter the circumstances, there are a few things that you can do to help an adolescent in your life who is having difficulty in the aftermath of a loss. Here are a few suggestions for assisting young people in processing their grief.

Practice Active Listening

Many young people feel like the adults around them dismiss their emotions as “overreactions” or minimize their sadness and anger. When you’re helping a grieving young person, it’s important to avoid cutting conversations short with platitudes like, “They’re in a better place now.”

If a young person is opening up about their grief, be an active listener. Hear what they’re saying, even if these conversations have become repetitive. When you respond, make sure to validate their emotions. If they sense that you’re just nodding along while tuning them out, they might start suppressing their feelings rather than sharing.

Normalize These Feelings

Adolescents who are grieving can understandably feel like none of their friends truly know what they’re going through. They might be the first person in their social circle to lose someone important. As an adult, you’ve probably said goodbye to several people you’ve loved and still miss.

Therefore, let them know that these feelings are completely normal, and that they are not completely alone in their experiences. Grief is part of the human experience. It’s an unavoidable aspect of life, and opening up to trusted adults is a good way to connect with people who have walked in their shoes before.

Be Prepared for Mood Swings

Grief doesn’t just involve sadness and crying. It can also fuel other emotional states, like anger and numbness. Adolescents in particular are already prone to mood swings, and when they’re grieving, these dramatic shifts in mood can be magnified.

Be patient if you’re on the receiving end of a mood swing. Dealing with grief is exceptionally difficult, and it’s normal for adolescents to feel angry and irritable at times like this.

Encourage Creative Expression

People of all ages benefit from exploring outlets for creative expression while grieving. Maybe the adolescent in your life already has a creative hobby they enjoy, or maybe they’ve always shied from away from hobbies like writing or drawing.

Gently encourage them to put their feelings into art, or offer to sign them up for a class if possible. They might find some relief through artwork.

Keep Their Loved One’s Memory Alive

Just as adults worry that their loved ones will be forgotten, and strive to keep their memories alive, teens and adolescents share in this reaction to grief. Talk to them about how they could honor their loved one’s memory and keep their legacy going.

They might want to set up a memorial in their community, write down their memories with their loved one, or even take up a hobby that their loved one enjoyed and eventually pass on that knowledge to other people.

Are you the parent of an adolescent who is struggling with grief? It might be time to reach out to a therapist. Get in touch with us to learn more about our grief counseling services.

 

 

 

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