Teen Grief and Loss
When we think of experiencing loss, we think of the death of a loved one. But, loss can be experienced in a variety of ways.
Loss occurs when someone’s life has been disrupted, usually because of a major event or life change that is out of the individual’s control. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to experiences of traumatic loss and grief because they are developmentally able to understand abstract concepts better than younger children.
CAUSES OF LOSS
· death of a loved one
· natural disaster
· moving homes, cities, or countries
· birth of a sibling
· parental divorce
· parental job changes
· school transitions
·changes in friendships, romantic relationships, or social status
Loss evokes feelings of grief—an inevitable, never ending process that consists of pain and discomfort that impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Loss that occurs suddenly and without warning is known as traumatic loss and can have a longer and more intense grieving process.
SIGNS OF TEEN GRIEF
· Feelings of sadness
· Anger, guilt, or regret over the loss
·Recurrent thoughts or dreams/nightmares about the loss
·Withdrawal or loss of interest in pleasurable activities
· Irritability, anger, physical aggression
· Difficulty sleeping
· Decreased concentration
· Sudden drop in grades
· Complaints of stomachaches or headaches
· Seems anxious, worried, or fearful
WAYS TO HELP
- Encourage your teen to talk about his or her feelings, either with you or another trusted adult.
- Suggest creative methods to express feelings, such as journaling, drying, ripping up items, making a collage, etc.
- Model healthy expression of emotions by sharing your feelings with your teen and allowing them to grieve alongside you.
- Be accepting of a range of emotional experiences including irritability, anger, sadness, and anxiety.
- Explain that grief comes and goes and healing is not a linear process. Different events or experiences can remind someone of the loss and trigger a new wave of pain.
- Keep routines, responsibilities, and expectations the same to provide consistency.
- Encourage spending time with friends and participating in regular activities.
- If you’re still concerned about your teen’s expressions of grief, consider consulting with a child psychologist or child counselor. We at Connections Child and Family Center would be happy to consult and provide support any time it’s needed.
- Also consider having your team participate in a peer grief support group. In a group setting, teens can relate to other teenagers who have also experienced loss. This gives them an opportunity to tell their story as frequently as needed, and gain support and empathy from others having their experience. Connections Child and Family Center offers an evidence-based grief and loss group specifically for teens.
Give us a call to find out more.