Teenagers Grieve Too: How to Help the Grieving Teenager
by Victor Parachin
After Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, many people wondered how her two teenage sons, William, 15, and Harry, 13, would deal with their grief. “Please give them a cuddle and clear your calendar,” advised a London columnist in an open letter to Prince Charles.
This was good advice for the prince and for anyone seeking to comfort a grieving teenager. Too often teenagers feel “invisible” or are “forgotten grievers” when there has been a death. Yet, every day a teenager experiences the death of someone they know and love a parent, sibling, grandparent, schoolmate, friend or relative. Like adults, teenagers can feel overwhelmed by such a loss.
Acknowledge teen grief. When visiting the funeral chapel or in the home, deliver your condolences to surviving teens as well as adults in the family. Learn from this teenager’s experience. “When my mom died after a prolonged illness, I was only 16,” recalls Jamie. “At the funeral home, I felt almost completely neglected as everyone came and greeted my dad. Finally, after speaking with my father, one man came over to me and said, ‘Jamie, I’m really sorry about your mother’s death. I know you really took good care of your mother while she was ill. You can feel very good about that. It was obvious to me that you loved your mother very much and that your mother loved you deeply as well.’ That man’s praise and his awareness of my grief lifted my spirits and today, more than a year later, I continue to relish his words in my mind.”
For a dozen effective ways to help teens get through the grieving process, read “How to Help the Grieving Teenager” by Victor Parachin
Photo credit: Asim Bharwani