Ways for adults to console a grieving teen
Teenagers. They're wonderful, lively, fun... They're moody, withdrawn, angry... They're going through the most confusing time of their life, and adding loss and bereavement to their frazzled mindset can send teens into a depressed bewilderment about life. Their parents can be just as confused about how to help them, or even deciphering whether their behavior is grief or just plain teen angst.
In many ways, the process of going through adolescence is a process of grief. While teenagers are surging toward adulthood, they are also grieving the loss of their carefree childhood, their dependence on their parents, and their simple identity as a child. For the child who was on his way to adulthood, the loss of a loved one can shoot them straight up to adult status. They're no longer as carefree and innocent as their peers. They may also have to endure a lot more responsibility.
Let them know you are there for them
According to grief experts, the best way to approach them is as a (young) adult, an individual. Respect their need for space and their feelings. Let them know you are there whenever they need to talk.
Expect that they may change in the short-term. Just like an adult, they may lose interest in activities. You might see a drop in their grades. Who can concentrate on geometry when you're facing the harsh realities of life for the first time?
Your teen may never talk to you about the death. First, what do parents know about anything, right? Second, they may be afraid to upset you with their feelings, especially if it was a family death and you're both grieving.
Teens are most likely to turn to their friends
Teens are most likely to turn to their friends for support. One of the ways to deal with this is to go straight to their friends and talk to them about it. Make sure they are equipped with the knowledge of how to help your child through the process of grief. Let them ask questions about it, so that they won't be afraid to approach your child. Read other articles in the Grief Library to prepare.
Though your grieving teen may not turn to you, you need to at least make sure they're sharing their feelings with someone. You may want to ask a trusted adult friend, mentor, guidance counselor or the like to try to talk to your teen about his or her grief.
Let your child know that if they bottle up their grief, they will only be angrier, more depressed and unhealthy. Let your teen know that these feelings will pass over time, but they have to get their feelings out.
If you feel your child is having trouble sharing, you may want to buy him or her a journal with prompts about their feelings.
Other than that, all you can do is try to provide security and rebuild a sense of safety for your teen:
- Be around as much as you can.
- Go to their sporting events or school events.
- Let them know they aren't going to be abandoned.
- When you can't physically be there, try to be as accessible as you can by phone.
Further sources of information
You may find our other articles in the Teens: ways to console a grieving teenager section helpful too.
Visit our Amazon store to find grief books for teenagers.