Five Tips for Your Teen’s Grief
Author: Renee Monczynski
We often hear that we all grieve differently. Teenagers are no different. Do you remember being a teenager? Are you attempting to survive raising a teenager? I remember the first, and I’m currently attempting the second. Being a teenager means they are no longer considered a child anymore, yet they are not an adult either. Society has expectations of how your teen should act, look and be. At the same time, everything inside them is changing on a structural, mental and even emotional level. When we add grieving the loss of a loved one to this mix, all of a sudden, up is down, left is backward and right is non-existent.
What I have found is that some of the tips I was given (read: learned the hard way) along my journey actually work with my 15-year-old daughter as well. I encourage you to read these five tips and start a conversation with your teenager about how to apply these to their own lives. You can use the tips in your grief journey, too. Even though you’re each grieving a different version of the same person, there are ways for you to come together in your common mourning and grow together.
There is no right or wrong way for your teen to grieve, but we encourage you to share these five tips with your teen to keep their mind, body and soul healthy during such a tumultuous period of time.
- Move toward your grief. Yes, this sounds awkward and uncomfortable because most people have not been taught how to deal with painful emotions. Think of when a friend has been in pain and all you wanted to do was take it away, yet you knew they were the only one who could heal themselves. Well, now it is your turn to heal. So, turn toward those raw, throbbing, aching emotions and take charge of you.
- Forgiveness. There is so much weight associated with this one word. Death does not wipe the slate clean of your loved one who lived a human existence. Expectations and plans were set. Milestones will now happen without them. Cars will be taught to be driven, brides will be walked down an aisle, graduation ceremonies across the country will happen without them. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgiveness does not mean you condone the actions of the other or understand why they were taken too soon, it means you are no longer willing to carry the anger or blame.
- Manage your own expectations. Let yourself cry. Let yourself laugh. Feel it all. Crying speaks for us when we have no words for our pain, sorrow or grief. Others may find that crying is not the way they express their wordless feelings; and that is perfectly OK. To laugh is to have a whole-body experience of joy and fun. And life is lived somewhere in between these two expressions. Allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of being human.
- Feed your body. It may sound odd to say this because we find ourselves eating every day for existence. The difference is purposefully eating to nourish your body. If we drink water and eat properly then things like making decisions become easier because your brain can concentrate on the task at hand and not be distracted by basic needs of nourishment and hydration. Drink water. Eat good food.
- Give yourself a break. Whether it’s meditation, going to the gym, running, sitting in a hammock curled up with a good book – get out of your head and into your body. Stretch and move your muscles. Start with 10 minutes a day. Give yourself a break – a purposeful break.
To learn more about the new TAPS Young Adult Program, please contact Renee Monczynski, Young Adult Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.