While 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.
- 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.