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Grief: Helping Teens With Grief


Table of Contents


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.   Grief: Helping Teens With Grief

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  What's different about teens who are grieving?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Why does a teen who is grieving need help?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  How can you help a teen who is grieving?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Where to go from here

What? - What is the medical information or key concepts related to the action?  What's different about teens who are grieving?

Teens express their grief differently depending on their age and emotional maturity. The teen years can be divided into three developmental phases: the early, middle, and late teen years. Each age group differs regarding the expression of grief.

What's different about helping teens when they are grieving?

It may be difficult to know how to approach a teen and help him or her through the grief process. Because teens are concerned about fitting in and not calling attention to themselves, they may feel awkward talking about their feelings. They may worry about what other people think about them. Also, because teens are searching for their own values and beliefs, they are often uncomfortable talking about their feelings with adults. They may worry that adults will try to give them answers and not listen to how they feel.

To help a teen who is grieving, you need to listen to the teen and watch his or her behavior. This will help you know how uncomfortable the teen is about talking with you. Ask the teen to let you know how he or she feels. Do not press the teen to talk until he or she is ready. Be attentive and listen when the teen chooses to talk about his or her feelings.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Young teens often express their feelings in the same way as adults do.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Young teens do not often express their feelings in the same way as adults do. Young teens may feel ill at ease when expressing grief. Young teens may have a very difficult time understanding another person's reaction to loss if it is not the same as theirs.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Young teens do not often express their feelings in the same way as adults do. Young teens may feel ill at ease when expressing grief. Young teens may have a very difficult time understanding another person's reaction to loss if it is not the same as theirs.


  2. Most teens like to share their feelings with adults.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Most teens do not like to share their feelings with adults. Teens often feel awkward talking about their feelings. They may worry about what other people think. Because teens are searching for their own values and beliefs, they are often uncomfortable talking about their feelings with adults. They may worry that adults will try to give them answers and not listen to how they feel.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Most teens do not like to share their feelings with adults. Teens often feel awkward talking about their feelings. They may worry about what other people think. Because teens are searching for their own values and beliefs, they are often uncomfortable talking about their feelings with adults. They may worry that adults will try to give them answers and not listen to how they feel.


Why? - Why the action is important?  Why does a teen who is grieving need help?

The way adults help teens express their feelings often lays the foundation for how the teens will express themselves as adults. It is important to help teens grieve, because even though they often act like adults, they are still developing emotionally. They need guidance to help them understand themselves, to solve their problems, and to develop clearer, more adult thinking.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Adults need to help teens express their feelings during the grieving process because it helps teens:

    1. Forget about themselves and concentrate on the feelings of other people.

      This answer is incorrect.

      The correct answer is that it helps teens develop emotionally and intellectually. Even though teens may act like adults, they are still growing and developing. They do not think like adults. Adults can help teens express their feelings, develop emotionally, and develop clearer, more adult thinking.

    2. Develop emotionally and intellectually.

      This answer is correct.

      Adults need to help teens express their feelings during the grieving process because it helps teens develop emotionally and intellectually. Even though teens may act like adults, they are still growing and developing. They do not think like adults. Adults can help teens express their feelings, develop emotionally, and develop clearer, more adult thinking.

    3. Rely more on each other and less on adults in the future.

      This answer is incorrect.

      The correct answer is that it helps teens develop emotionally and intellectually. Even though teens may act like adults, they are still growing and developing. They do not think like adults. Adults can help teens express their feelings, develop emotionally, and develop clearer, more adult thinking.

    4. Learn self-control.

      This answer is incorrect.

      The correct answer is that it helps teens develop emotionally and intellectually. Even though teens may act like adults, they are still growing and developing. They do not think like adults. Adults can help teens express their feelings, develop emotionally, and develop clearer, more adult thinking.


How? - Learn the steps involved in taking action.  How can you help a teen who is grieving?

You may feel unsure about how to approach a teen who is grieving. Here are some general concepts to keep in mind:

Here are some ways to help a teen who is grieving.

  1. Teach your teen about the normal grieving process. Because teens normally have mood swings and conflicting feelings, they may need help telling the difference between normal feelings and feelings of grief. Talk with your teen about the grieving process.
  2. Listen to your teen. Be prepared to drop what you are doing and listen when he or she is ready to talk about the loss. Let your teen talk about the loss in indirect ways, if he or she needs to. Listen for the feelings that your teen is expressing. Adults often want to help a teen or ease the teen's pain. Resist the urge to help your teen by talking, offering advice, or solving his or her problems. Let your teen use his or her own problem-solving skills. Listen and respond in a way that shows you're trying to understand what's being said. This may encourage your teen to talk more.
  3. Handle serious behavior problems appropriately. Sometimes a teen's behavior does not improve when reasonable limits have been set by adults. Start by calmly talking with your teen about problem behavior. Seek professional counseling for your teen or for yourself if you are not able to handle problem behaviors on your own.
  4. Tell other significant adults in your teen's life about the recent loss. Teachers, school counselors, and coaches may also be able to help your teen work through his or her grief.

Following are some activities you can do with the different ages of teens to help when they are grieving:

Test Your Knowledge

  1. If a young teen is not able to talk about his or her feelings, set up an appointment for the teen with a psychologist.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      If a young teen is not able to talk about his or her feelings, you may not need to set up an appointment for the teen with a psychologist. Offer to draw a picture, make a picture collage, or write a story or poem with him or her.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      If a young teen is not able to talk about his or her feelings, you may not need to set up an appointment for the teen with a psychologist. Offer to draw a picture, make a picture collage, or write a story or poem with him or her.


  2. Middle teens may need help understanding that death happens to everyone.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Middle teens may need help understanding that death happens to everyone. Many middle teens cannot imagine their own death and often think that they will live forever. They need help from adults to understand that death happens to everyone.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Middle teens may need help understanding that death happens to everyone. Many middle teens cannot imagine their own death and often think that they will live forever. They need help from adults to understand that death happens to everyone.


  3. Adults may need to demand that older teens help make funeral or memorial service arrangements for family members who have died.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Adults should not demand that older teens help make funeral or memorial service arrangements for family members who have died. Demanding that an older teen participate in activities that he or she feels uncomfortable doing may interfere with his or her ability to grieve.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Adults should not demand that older teens help make funeral or memorial service arrangements for family members who have died. Demanding that an older teen participate in activities that he or she feels uncomfortable doing may interfere with his or her ability to grieve.


Where? - Other resources and organizations that can help you take action.  Where to go from here

Now that you have read this information, you are ready to help a teen who is grieving.

Talk with a health professional

If you have questions, take this information with you when you visit your doctor.

If you would like more information about helping teens deal who are grieving, the following resources are available:

Organizations

Caring Connections
Phone: 1-800-658-8898 help line
Phone: 1-877-658-8896 multilingual line (toll-free)
Phone: (703) 837-1500
Email: caringinfo@nhpco.org
Web Address: www.caringinfo.org
 

Caring Connections, a program of the U.S. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), seeks to improve care at the end of life. Caring Connections provides free resources, including educational brochures, advance directives and hospice information, and a toll-free help line for people looking for quality end-of-life information.


KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and Teens
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: (904) 697-4100
Web Address: www.kidshealth.org
 

This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.


Support Group

Rainbows
1360 Hamilton Parkway
Itasca, IL  60143
Phone: 1-800-266-3206
(847) 952-1770
Fax: (847) 952-1774
Email: info@rainbows.org
Web Address: www.rainbows.org
 

Rainbows is an international organization that offers peer support for children and adults who are grieving a death, divorce, or other painful transition in their families. Groups are led by trained adults. This organization provides an online newsletter, information, and referrals.


Credits for Grief: Helping Teens With Grief

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised October 17, 2011

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