Health, Home Life, Mental Health

Grieving Teenagers: 6 Tips to Navigate This Journey

Grief is a universal human experience that arises after we experience the loss of someone or something important in our lives. It comes in different forms and can alter your world completely. In fact, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what the circumstances are — if you experience the loss of someone or something important in your life, it will likely trigger grief. According to the American Psychological Association, one-third of teenagers experience a significant loss before adulthood. This loss can be a loved family member, friend, or pet. But knowing how to deal with your grief can help you to work through this challenging time in your life. This post looks at ways you can support yourself through the grieving process.


Remember that your feelings are valid.

Teenagers often struggle with the perception that there is one way to grieve. They worry that their emotional reaction isn’t “normal” or that they’re somehow not grieving in the right way. They feel guilty because they’re struggling while others around them are not. Remember that there is no “right” way to grieve. Your loss has been significant and has caused you great pain. Your feelings are valid and real. You are entitled to experience these feelings in any way you can make sense of what has happened. It is ok to feel despair at your loss; you can also feel happy when you think of someone you have lost and the good times you spent together. However you feel, let yourself feel it, and remember, just because other people grieve one way, it doesn’t mean you have to follow suit, or you are doing something wrong.


Allow yourself time and space to grieve.

There is no set time for a person to grieve. You need to allow yourself the time to go through the grieving process in a way that benefits you and the loss you are feeling. The old adage “time is a healer” is something many people cling to when struggling with a loss and find comfort that the pain will be less in time.


This can be as little as a few weeks, a few months, or longer. Do not feel rushed into having to be “back to normal” again. You are going through something traumatic, and as a teenager, you still need to make sense of the world and where you fit in. A loss of any kind, be it a friend, parent, grandparent, pet, etc., can be detrimental to your development. Take it one day at a time.


For many people having a place to pay respects and feel close to a loved one can be beneficial as they have a dedicated space just for this purpose. You can create a small memorial at home or choose a marker from to identify a resting place or grave to allow you to do this.


Reach out to those you love and trust.

Grief is very much a healing process, and one of the best ways to heal is to be around people you trust. You may feel like you want to keep your feelings bottled up and to yourself, but this is the worst thing you can do. When we bottle things up and keep them inside, they fester. They get bigger and bigger inside us until they take over our entire being, and sometimes, they can make us very sick. When we share our feelings with those we love and trust, they don’t get bigger; they get smaller. They get out of our way so that we can move on with our lives. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loss with people who understand. You can laugh, cry and mourn together while leaning on each other for support.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals.

Many adults experience grief when a loved one passes away, but teens often feel like they are expected to “get over it” and move on. If you are grieving and feeling like you can’t cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. Many trained professionals work with teens and families who have experienced loss, including group and individual therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. There are also support groups for grieving teens where you can share your feelings with others going through the same thing. You don’t have to do this alone.


Take care of yourself physically and mentally.

When we experience grief, we often neglect our physical and mental health. We worry too much about others and forget to care for ourselves. It can be challenging to eat well when you are busy attending to the needs of others, and it can be even more challenging to get enough sleep. When grieving, you may want to consider taking some time off of school and work to take care of yourself. You may want to spend some time in nature to reflect on your feelings and find some peace. Or you can seek out support groups where you can meet others going through the same thing and share with them. You need these things so that your body can work to heal your mind and soul.


Acknowledge that it may not get better immediately.

Feeling like you’re not progressing with your grief can be frustrating. Feeling like your grief is stuck at a standstill is horrible and can cause you to feel even worse about your situation. We often expect grief to be a linear process, with a beginning, middle, and end. Grief is more like a jagged line—it can move up and down, sideways, and in circles. It can be a messy process, and it is normal to feel stuck sometimes.


Final words

Grieving is challenging, but many resources are available to help you navigate it. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve, and no set time frames are involved. There are only your feelings and needs and the need to take care of your mental and physical health.


Kristen is a contributor for GirlSpring. Her posts focus on GirlSpring updates and current events.

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