How to Support Your Teen in Grief and Loss

How to Support Your Teen in Grief and Loss

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

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