Helping a Teen Coping with Grief

2539202649 e983408bb1 z 1 300x200While the death of a loved one is never easy, it hits teens especially hard. According to the National Institutes of Health, 2.5 million Americans pass away yearly, leaving an average of 4-5 grieving survivors. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion to wash away the pain completely, but there are several strategies to remember when dealing with your child, who is coping with grief.

Grief is Messy

The grieving process is tidy on paper, progressing from “Denial” to “Acceptance” in a set sequence. In reality, however, coping with grief is deeply individual. When approaching your teen, it is important to remember to:

  • Be sensitive. Don’t expect your child to grieve in a certain way, because everyone deals with grief differently. Some teens might want to talk about what they’re going through, others might become distant.
    Image source: Flickr user- pennajoe
  • Avoid triggers. Small things can remind your teen of the deceased. Even if it seems irrational, certain topics or items might be too painful for your child to deal with at the moment.
  • Be understanding and patient. Regardless of how your child shows their grief to the world, they are suffering on the inside.
  • Listen. Everyone’s grieving process is different. If your teen reaches out, it is imperative to be there for them.
  • Watch for destructive behaviors. Often, experiencing a loss will have repercussions in your teen’s actions. For instance, coping with grief might cause a slump in your child’s grades – it is crucial to help them through this difficult period.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Coping with grief frequently goes hand-in-hand with physical issues. Many teens change their eating and sleeping patterns while grieving. A daily routine can help alleviate these problems before they become more serious.
  • Give your child time. There is no correct grieving length. While the hardest part of grief typically lasts between 6-18 months, it leaves deep emotional scars that can take years to heal.
  • Consider professional help. Trails Carolina wilderness therapy can help your teen work through their emotional struggles. For more information about Trails, please call 800-975-7303.
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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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