Many of us had a sad experience like loosing a friend or family member at an early age, and at that time it’s hard to cope with the situation and all the emotions that come up. Teens today have the same problem, but it somehow feels like they don’t have the strength to cope with it or maybe we are not providing enough of support. Whatever the case is, dealing with grief has always been a problem for teens, but we as parents also have a role in their grief and there are ways we can help out teens to deal with grief.
Having a parent die at an early age, or losing a friend or family member is unfortunately a common thing, what is even more common today is that parents told their children at that time to be strong and to carry on, not allowing them to deal with the pain and the process of mourning. At that time many teens are told, if their parent is the one who died, that they are the head of the family now and that they should take care of them. That also doesn’t give them the opportunity to mourn.
Most of us assume that our kids have peers to talk to and that they will be able to help them more than we can so we leave them be, which is a mistake. Forgetting about the mourning process may lead to some serious consequences; our teens can lock those feelings inside them. Of course each teen is different and not all of them can be treated the same way. But here are some of the symptoms that will certainly show that your teen is going through hard times dealing with grief. Of course this may also be different for each teen; some of it may be their normal behavior.
- chronic depression
- sleeping difficulties
- low self esteem
- academic failure
- deterioration of relationships
- risk-taking behaviors
- drug and alcohol abuse
- denying pain
- acting overly strong or mature
There isn’t an ultimate way to help your teen child cope with grief, each of them is unique and so is their pain. But one of the most influential things on teenagers in those situations is how their parents and older members of the family deal with the loss. Bottom line is that they need us as adults to tell them that it is ok to grief, to be sad, to cry and let those emotions go. You need to tell them that the pain they are feeling now won’t last forever. And if they don’t deal with that pain now it will come back much harder eventually.
Simple understanding and love through those difficult times, support for your child while he is going through a hard time is actually helping him make the best out of that sad experience and it will help him or her in their development into adults.