Teens, like most of us, can experience the pain and grief of losing a loved one or friend. As a parent, watching your child cope with and battle through grief can be one of the most painful experiences of your life.
With all grief and loss, there is a strong pull to try and make the person grieving feel better immediately or be ‘fixed’ from their pain.
Parents are in a unique position to support, love, and be present for their teen when they’ve experienced a grief or loss. A few thoughts:
- When people grieve, they crave a variety of things: solitude, community, silence, and support. There isn’t a perfect thing to say to a grieving teen, but being present and offering to be available should they want to talk can go a long way.
- Let your teen be surrounded by supportive people—peers, teachers, youth leaders from a faith community can all offer support and love to a grieving teen. Adolescent development places a high weight of significance on peer relationships, and teens will generally open up more to their peers than parents—and that’s okay!
- Help identify ‘safe spaces’ for your teen—their favorite coffee shop where they can be alone; a part of the house that is close to their family but gives them distance; a walking path near home. Having a ‘safe space’ where teens can go to take a break from their life can be powerful in allowing them to work through their own grief process in their own time.
- Seek professional help. Teens are sometimes more willing to speak to a counselor than to their parents—as long as they’re talking to someone, it means they’re connecting and working through their loss in their own time.
Sarah Brookings, MA, LPC
sbrookings @ growcounseling.com
Photo Cred: Zimthiger