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Helping Teenagers Cope With Grief

July 25, 2017
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

In the past few weeks, our county has been devastated by the deaths of four young men. Nothing can express my deepest sympathies for the families and friends of those individuals that have been taken so abruptly from our communities. So many lives will forever be affected by these tragedies, and it is difficult to even find words to express our condolences.

As our community mourns these losses, it is important to give yourself time to grieve. In the article titled "Helping Teenagers Cope With Grief," author Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. describes the importance of letting your teenager grieve. His adviceis not only applicable to teenagers but to adults as well:

Many Teens are Told to "Be Strong"

Many adults who lack understanding of their experience discourage teens from sharing their grief. Bereaved teens give out all kinds of signs that they are struggling with complex feelings, yet are often pressured to act as if they are doing better than they really are.

When a parent dies, many teens are told to "be strong" and "carry on" for the surviving parent. They may not know if they will survive themselves, let alone be able to support someone else. Obviously, these kinds of conflicts hinder the "work of mourning."

A Caring Adult's Role

How adults respond when someone loved dies has a major effect on the way teens react to the death. Sometimes adults don't want to talk about the death, assuming that by doing so, young people will be spared some of the pain and sadness. However, the reality is very simple: teens grieve anyway.

Teens often need caring adults to confirm that it's all right to be sad and to feel a multitude of emotions when someone they love dies. They also usually need help understanding that the hurt they feel now won't last forever. When ignored, teens may suffer more from feeling isolated than from the actual death itself. Worse yet, they feel all alone in their grief.

Be Aware of Support Groups

Peer support groups are one of the best ways to help bereaved teens heal. In a group, teens can connect with other teens who have experienced a loss. They are allowed and encouraged to tell their stories as much, and as often, as they like. In this setting most will be willing to acknowledge that death has resulted in their life being forever changed. You may be able to help teens find such a group. This practical effort on your part will be appreciated.

Signs a Teen May Need Extra Help

There are many reasons why healthy grieving can be especially difficult for teenagers. Some grieving teens may even behave in ways that seem inappropriate or frightening. Be on the watch for:

symptoms of chronic depression, sleeping difficulties, restlessness and low self esteem.

academic failure or indifference to school-related activities

deterioration of relationships with family and friends

risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, and sexual experimentation

denying pain while at the same time acting overly strong or mature

To help a teen who is having a particularly hard time with his or her loss, explore the full spectrum of helping services in your community. School counselors, church groups and private therapists are appropriate resources for some young people, while others may just need a little more time and attention from caring adults like you. The important thing is that you help the grieving teen find safe and nurturing emotional outlets at this difficult time.

While this article is directed towards teenagers specifically, it gives appropriate advice for all ages. If you or your child need further assistance in the grieving process, there are numerous resources available in our community. Religious officials, Hope Haven, Seasons Center, as well as numerous licensed mental health professionals are available in the area.

To read the full article, please go to www.martinmatticefuneralhome.com/griefarticle/article/helping25

 
 
 

 

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