Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dealing With Teen Grief

Often forgotten as parents go through their grief journey is the other child, the sibling of the one who died. This other child or children also go through their own grief, feeling unwanted by both parents and isolated from their friends. They are now different; they are the survivors and can feel survivor guilt, whether it be a ski or car accident, an illness or a murder.

They don’t want to or can’t verbalize their feelings and sometimes retreat from everyone. This can become a huge problem both for the teens in school and in the family environment. Teens need a safe, environment to express themselves and because they know how much the parents are grieving, many seek professional support groups specifically designed for them or even seek help from counselors at school. Often times it is a peer group that gives them an outlet to express themselves without judgment. This can be through talking to others in the group or expressing their feelings through writing, music or poetry.

Everyone grieves differently, especially teenagers, and we must respect that uniqueness by providing a haven for them to do their grief work.

Below is a list for parents and teachers of 10 common signs of teen grief.

* Inability to concentrate
* Isolation
* Expressing feelings of guilt
* Idealizing the person who died
* Needing to tell and retell their story
* Acting out behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, permissiveness
* Change in eating or sleeping patterns
* Bullying or becoming the class clown
* Grades dropping
* Talking about giving possessions away and funerals

Parents should understand that although they, too, are grieving, they need to help their other children work through their own grief process and give them as much support as possible. By doing this, both the parent and child may find a new avenue of understanding each other that will lead to an even closer relationship as they walk the grief journey.

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