Teen Grief Cues
- Difficulty with concentration, with a decrease in academic performance
- Body distress which include headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, and fluctuations in eating, eating disorders
- Acting out, including drug/alcohol use, risk-taking, promiscuity, uncontrolled emotions
- Wanting to be alone all the time — isolated, sullen
- Increased irritability and anger
- Suicidal talk or behavior
- Anxiety, fear, panic, insecurity
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Refusal to talk, or emotional withdrawal
- Becoming the “perfect” teen
Being with a Teen in Grief
- Establish a rapport – ask them questions about themselves to earn trust.
- Listen, care for and accept them as they are
- Acknowledge their loss, acknowledge that they are having a difficult time
- Assure them that what they are experiencing is normal
- Tell the truth, answer their questions honestly
- Expect the discussions to involve larger issues, not only the death or other loss
- Expect a range of emotions, sometimes shocking – accept their unique process
- Encourage them to participate in physical and creative activities that allow for expression of feeling and release of tension.
- Encourage peer group support, if available
- Remember that their families may be in turmoil and you might be the only stable influence in their life.
Resources: The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children and Families, Alan Wofelt, Ph.D. and Joseph A. Santiago
New York Times September 26 2012
Grief and loss are such a natural part of life. And yet, people don’t know how to be with it in healthy ways. I love this article from the New York Times that talks about including children in the mourning process and why. At WinterSpring, we advocate for talking with kids about their grief and we have support groups available to help.
Click here for this NYT article.