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