The following is intended to help identify and support teens who may be coping with the death of a loved one. Please remember that grief is a very individual process and will vary with the individual and the circumstances surrounding the loss.
Teens may demonstrate intense sadness or anger that seems "out of the blue" but is, in fact, related to the death. In an effort to seem "normal", teens may suppress feelings or feel "numb" or indifferent. Self-blame and guilt are particularly common responses in teens.
Fear can be a common grief response, particularly in the case of a peer's death when teens are often faced with their own mortality for the first time.
Behavioural responses may include the following:
- Withdrawal from peers, family, extra-curricular activities
- School grades and participation in school activities may decline
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, loss of appetite, fatigue
- Increased risk-taking behaviour such as skipping school, use of alcohol and drugs
- Anger and increased aggression
From experience grieving teens give this advice:
- Don't get upset if I don't want to talk
- Trust that I know what I need
- Don't push me
- Talk about it with me
- Help me remember the good times
- Give me space
- Be patient, don't worry too much
- Just listen, you don't have to give advice