Dealing with Grief in Teenagers
“All the knowledge and theories in the world are not enough to treat those who suffers a loss if we are not willing to open up our hearts”.
Elisabeth Kübler - Ross.
Adolescence is a defining moment in our lives as human beings. In this stage we are connecting the gap between childhood and adulthood and is often characterized by many losses, separations and grief in every sense of the word. Being an adolescent implies living a series of griefs that with time will consolidate the person’s identity and personality.
The base of thanatology is recognizing that the individual needs help,accepting that this instant is a “hard situation” and for the time being cannot be solved.
- Build confidence
- Open channels of communication
- Aid in ways for the teen to express, trust and generate a healthy introspection about feelings of pain, anguish and emptiness.
Main ideas about loss management in teens:
1)When a teen faces a loss he also faces all the changes that come with it. Maybe that frustration can manifest in conflicts with authority figures or with people their own age. It’s probable that the teen will face this loss with a busy life rhythm and we should be mindful of this when offering help.
2)It’s common for the teen to not know how to “get over” the loss. They may believe that “acting strong” is what is being asked of them. They think if they show pain in front of others they might be considered weak which is why they mask their emotions.
3)Feelings of race, fear and impotence are common in these stages of grief. Sometimes there can even be an overwhelming indifference and it’s important to not generate a reaction of shame when experiencing the teens emotions.
4)Friends hold an important role in the guidance of a teen through these hard times. However, teens frequently feel impotent in front of their peers, not wanting to talk or open up. Unless a friend has gone through something similar could a natural empathy ensue between the two. Otherwise friends can add certain pressure to get over the grief.
5)If the loss happens inside the family it is important for the family as a whole to monitor the grief process. Things should be spoken about openly and with honesty, establishing clear roles that each family member should undertake. Giving a grief filled teen a role can help him feel useful in times of hazy standards.
6)It’s normal for the teenager to reject their families desire to help and can lead to an early search for independence and separation. This is why anyone who has a strong bond with the teen can result very helpful.
I want to thank all the young people I share my work with. As a facilitator I can be present, listen to them, accompany them and support them. As always with an open heart, ready to help in difficult moments such as these that present day in and day out.