by Janna Benson Kontz, MDiv
The death of a loved one is a difficult and profound lesson for any of us. Now imagine you’re already living in a continual and changing swirl of emotions even before someone you love dies. Teens are in a constant state of change even without something as dramatic and life-altering as the death of someone who was important to them. They grieve deeply, but often don’t know how to or don’t want to express that grief. Adults try to be helpful by telling teens how to grieve, but teens can struggle because their grief doesn’t seem to fit the expectations of others.
Tips for helping grieving teens include:
- Listen. Listen to their grief and their concerns and their questions without judgement.
- Be honest. Show them your own grief instead of trying to hide it. Answer their questions honestly or find someone who can.
- Walk with them. Let them know that grief is a journey not a one-time event. Be present.
- Love them. Teenagers, like all of us, can be downright unlovable at times. Grief can make this worse as they act out or rebel. Love them through it.
- Ask for help. If you’re feeling at a loss of how to help your teen with their grief, ask for help. You are not alone. Seek assistance from other family members or friends, or reach out to experts in this area to help you navigate this time.
Remember, teens are caught in that place between childhood and being adults—a difficult place even in the best of times. Our care and compassion in the worst of times can shape their lives and reactions forever. We can help them learn that healing is good, and joy can be a part of life again.
If you need assistance helping your teen, we can help so you can allow your teen to turn a difficult time into a lifelong learning event. Young people are amazing and very resilient, so take their lead, be honest, and you will get through this.
Janna Kontz, MDiv, is a grief specialist with Hospice of the Red River Valley.
About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, nonprofit hospice serving more than 30 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email email@example.com or visit www.hrrv.org.