The death of a pet, friend, teacher, or loved one can catapult a teen into an emotional process of grief. The depth of grief will be influenced by how close she was to the person or pet and the circumstances around the death. It can be a challenge for parents to support their teens through the intense emotions that arise. Providing a support system that syncs with her ability to deal with adversity and being her confidant can help.
Consider the following tips as she goes through the grieving process :
- Validate your teen’s feelings and be prepared for the waves of different emotions. It is ok to cry and then laugh and then be angry.
- Offer coping strategies like journaling, art, or talking with a professional.
- Allow for questions. A loss may trigger your teen to ask big questions about life. Listen thoughtfully and engage in conversations that allow your teen to contemplate and find meaning.
- Invite your teen to consider what she is discovering about herself, others, and life. You may ask questions like: What did the person mean to you? What did you (or others) learn from him/her? What are you learning about yourself?
You may also offer this insight to your teen:
- Grief is unique and there is a wide range of responses to loss. One person’s pain cannot be compared to another. Allow yourself to go through your unique process without shame or comparison.
- Acknowledge what you are feeling. Talk about it with friends, family members, or other trusted adults. Remember whatever you are feeling is OK and you are not alone.
- Trust the process. There will be highs and lows and eventually you will reach a point of acceptance. Don’t beat yourself up for experiencing moments of joy as you grieve or for moving forward with your life.
- Take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well and exercise.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting a teen in grief, but it is always important to move through the process alongside your teen. Offer love, support, and guidance. If you are also impacted by the loss, take care of yourself. Asking for help can set a helpful example and show your teen how she can do the same.