Helping Teens Cope With Parental Loss
The loss of a loved one is never an easy shoulder to bear, much less so when you are a teenager. The loss of a parent or guardian can weigh heavily on the mind and spirit. It can be hard to find comfort or release during these times, and it is important to try to help them find ways to overcome your grief.
Grief and Adolescence
Grief, in its most basic definition, is a series of hormonal and emotional reactions to loss or pain. Couple that emotional weight with your average teenage hormones; and the backlash can be quite painful. Teenagers are often dealing with issues of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Grief can exacerbate these issues and can make them much worse.
It is common for a teenager to feel alone in the world after the loss of a close one, especially a parent. Not only is there a void left in your heart by the deceased, but it can also be incredibly difficult for people to understand what you are going through. Friends may not know what to say to comfort them. Family might not be able to help them with the burdens of responsibility that may come with the loss of a parent. Grief can make us feel isolated. It is important to help guide them to be understanding of those who may not fully understand what you are going through. Most of them are trying to help in whatever way they can.
Check With Other Adults in Their Life
Teachers, school counselors, coaches, and managers often be a resource to see how your family member is doing when you are not with them. Check with the other adults in their life, to make sure that they are doing alright.
Drugs or Alcohol
Today, teenagers have more access to drugs or alcohol than ever before. It is important to make sure that your loved one is not abusing these substances, which can alter their judgment or affect their grief. Drugs and alcohol tend to numb the grief, but it is not sustainable, and can often make the pain of loss worse over time.
Treat Them Like an Adult
One of the worst things you can do with a grieving teenager is to address them as if they are a child. It is OK to provide guidance in their time of need, but treat them like an adult. Don’t talk down to them, and actively listen when they decide to open up to you.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.