Young children may not seem as affected by the loss of a family member or family friend, but that’s largely because they don’t fully understand the concept of death. A teenager, on the other hand, can truly grasp the impact of a loss.
Many people experience their first significant loss during the teenage years. It could be the death of a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a close friend or classmate their own age. The loss of a friend may be the hardest one of all. Teenagers and young adults consider themselves invincible, so when a young person passes away, it hits home that life is fleeting.
Parents, teachers and other adults in a teen’s life have the somber yet important task of comforting them and guiding them through this crisis. It’s a teachable moment and a chance to share lessons about handling grief and making the most of the time you have on the Earth.
Here are five expert tips to start a conversation with your teen about loss:
1. Explain that grief is completely normal.
It’s OK for your teen to feel angry, sad or confused. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed or try to hide to their feelings.
2. Everyone grieves differently.
Some people can’t stop sobbing, while others simply want to sit by themselves to process their feelings. Help your teen understand the importance of respecting other people’s grieving processes. Just because a classmate isn’t crying over the loss of a friend doesn’t mean they aren’t deeply grieving.
3. Encourage your teen to take advantage of counseling or grief support services.
You may arrange for private support or use grief counselors available at school. Sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know, so let your child know that’s OK and certainly won’t offend you. Your goal is to help them heal in whatever way possible.
4. Talk about the cause of death, if appropriate.
If their friend died from suicide, a drug overdose or in a drunken driving incident, this is a chance to discuss how choices have consequences. And those consequences can be so much more severe than a punishment like grounding or loss of phone privileges.
5. Plan a memorial with your teen.
Maybe it’s visiting a special place they enjoyed with that friend or family member. Maybe it’s creating a scrapbook or photo collage. This allows your child to focus on happy memories and celebrate the life of a friend rather than solely focusing on their death. You can even utilize a local funeral home to help plan or host a memorial.
While your parental instincts might be to hold your child close, there’s a good chance your teen will need some space. Give them the chance to grieve in private and process what’s happened. But keep a watchful eye. If you notice problems at school, a slip in grades or depression that extends months beyond the friend’s death, consider seeking professional help.
Stuhr Funeral Home , a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, understands that everyone experiences loss in different ways. They provide helpful resources for teens dealing with grief as well as additional tips and advice for parents . Together, they’re dedicated to providing the best and most professional care for their clients during their time of grieving and healing.
Loss is hard at any age. But it can be especially hard for teenagers already experiencing many emotions. Provide the much-needed comfort and support a teen needs and stand ready to help them through the grieving process. It can healing for them and for you.
For more information about helping your teen deal with loss, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.
Support From Us, When You Need It Most
Traveling the path of grief can be one of the most difficult journeys we make. Sadness, loneliness, and isolation often accompany us. Our feelings can be overwhelming. To help those who are grieving the death of a loved one, Stuhr Funeral Home and Heartland Hospice are offering a 7 week grief support group open to the public.WHEN: Every Wednesday, beginning October 5th through November 16th
WHERE: Stuhr’s West Ashley Chapel, 3360 Glenn McConnell Parkway, Charleston, SC 29407
TIME: 6:00pm – 7:30 pm
Preparing For Rosh Hashanah
Stuhr Funeral Home and Heartland Hospice are offering a holiday support seminar for those grieving the loss of a loved one. In honor of Rosh Hashanah, our first meeting will be on Wednesday, September 21 from 6:00-8:00 PM at our Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street.
For questions, please call Johanna Workman, Heartland Hospice Bereavement Coordinator at 843-766-7646 or contact us at 843-723-2524.