Being a teen can be a very challenging time in life. You're not a kid anymore. During this time lots of changes are occurring. You're taking on more responsibility, thinking ahead to the future, and trying to juggle family, friends, and school. So when someone you love dies, it can be more difficult for you now than at any other age. It's hard to understand all the changes that go with being a teen and now try to make sense of all the feelings that go along with the death of someone special to you. There are people out there that care about you and can help you through this tough time. Below are some ways to help you start on this journey.
Here are some things to remember:
You are not alone. Talk to others you trust.
Seek out an adult you feel comfortable talking to, such as a parent, counselor, coach, pastor, teacher.
Emotions are normal and healthy
It is not a sign of weakness to express your feelings, whether that is through tears, anger, or laughter. All feelings are normal and a part of life. Allowing yourself to express your feelings helps the healing process.
This is not something you'll "get over." It's a journey, not an event.
Often, people feel after a certain time we should be over our grief. It is important for you to understand that there is no timetable. Everyone grieves in a different way and in their own time. Be patient with yourself and understand that this is something that will be with you always. Remember you are grieving because you loved someone.
Take time to cherish the memories.
The time you shared with your loved one is a gift that will always be treasured. Not having them in person right now is painful but as you begin to heal, the pain will lessen and you will be able to find more joy in the memories and the time you spent together.
It's important to share your experience with others.
Sometimes we feel like we've told our story over and over again but that is part of the healing process. It's a necessary part of your journey toward healing. Find people who are willing to listen to those stories, over and over again!
Things that seemed important before the death, may not feel the same now.
Death changes the way we view everything. This may be different than how your friends see things, who have not had experiences with loss. Be patient with your friends and help them understand why you may see things differently now.
Don't numb your pain in unhealthy ways.
It may be tempting to try to get away from your overwhelming feelings and pain by turning to alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors. Unfortunately, these behaviors don't take away the pain; it's still there! It's only by dealing with the pain that you can work through it and move toward healing.
People grieve differently.
People affected by this death may deal with their loss in different ways. Some people find healing in doing things related to the person they miss and some people express their grief in a more emotional way. Both ways are normal and lead to healing.
Here are things to help:
Talk to someone you trust, draw what you're feeling, listen to music, punch a pillow, shoot hoops, go for a walk. Find healthy ways to work out all the feelings you're experiencing inside. It may be different for each of you. Respect the different ways each of you express your grief.
Writing about your pain is a good way to let yourself feel it.
Try keeping a journal during the next few months. Write in it everyday after school or before bed. If you don't want to write a lot, that's OK. A few sentences a day is fine.
All the memories you want to be sure to remember the time you shared with your loved one. Create a list and keep it in a special place.
Join a group.
Mourning Hope offers groups for teens that have had someone special in their lives die. There are others who understand and are experiencing similar pain and feelings like you.
Take care of yourself
Find healthy outlets to be physical--exercise, go for a walk or run. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and take time to do things you enjoy.
More ideas like this are found in Alan Wolfelt's book titled: Healing Your Grieving Heart For Teens. This and other resources for teens are available in our resource library. Call us at 402-488-8989 if you would like to check it out!