Grief is such a tricky thing, because everyone grieves differently, and each loss can be grieved differently. The loss of a loved one is hard for even the most experienced adult, and there is no exception for a young person. The way someone grieves can be based on previous experiences in life and the developmental stage of the person going through the loss.
Here are three ways that you can support the young person in your life through grief.
Allow your teen or child to grieve.
- Help them process their feelings, in a supportive way. Try just listening to them and acknowledging their thoughts and feelings.
- Children grieve in “puddles” meaning that they tend to be sad or angry one moment and then the next moment they are back to laughing and playing. This is all completely normal.
- Teenagers on the other hand grieve more like an adult but don’t yet have all the life experience to cope with all of these big feelings. They understand the permanence of death, and have the ability to deal with loss but only based on their previous experiences.
Be there for them.
- Be there for them when they need to talk. Teenagers may feel that no one understands what they are going through because they are in an egocentric phase of development so it is very important to empathize with them and just be present when they need someone.
- Be there for them when they need a break from the grief. Younger children have this innate ability to take breaks from their grief through play, and this time might be a good opportunity for you too, to take a break from those hard feelings for a moment. Teenagers may need to be encouraged to hangout with their friends.
Connect them with a community.
- The importance of finding your “tribe” is so important especially to youth who strive on community and social acceptance. Finding that group of friends is even harder, and more important when a youth have gone through something that not many of their peers have, like the loss of a parent or a sibling.
- Help connect them with a supportive community of peers who understand what they are going through. This community could be a local grief support group, or a bereaved summer camp or the Grief Pop-Up on Upopolis.
Introducing the Upopolis Grief Pop-Up
Upopolis saw this need and has created a special place for youth going through grief. This community aims to help these youth find someone else who just gets what they’re going through.