The death of a loved one, whether expected or unexpected, causes great disruption to a person’s life. For teens, loss and grief is especially complicated. Here are some things to keep in mind as you help your teenager grieve.
The process of grieving is unique to each person
No two people grieve the same way. It is an individual experience based on things like personality, family dynamics and how close one is to the person they lost. Many people make the mistake of trying to tell people how to grieve or think that everyone should grieve like they do.
Do things to remember the lost loved one
This is one of the best things you can do to help a teen with grief. Ask them questions about the person they lost-what they were like, hobbies they enjoyed, and activities they did together. Ask to see pictures of the loved one. Inviting your teenager to share memories helps them to process their loss while honoring them at the same time. Another very productive thing is to help your teenager create a memory book, write a letter to the lost loved one or plant a tree in the yard as a way to remember them. Encourage them to volunteer with an organization the loved one cared about or just serve others in their name.
Be patient with the grieving process
Whether you’re a parent or youth leader/mentor, you may have certain expectations for how long your teenager should grieve. Don’t do this. Be patient with your teenager and meet them where they are in the process. Remember, the teenage years are already difficult as they struggle with a lot of different emotions in these years. Grief can be confusing and disorienting to teenagers. Give them time.
The best way to come alongside a teenager who is grieving is just to listen to them express their thoughts and emotions. These sentiments might change hour by hour or week by week. Your job as a parent, youth leader or mentor is to listen, honor and respect what your teen is expressing and pray for their hearts to heal. And, remind them that the God of all comfort sees their pain and wants to help them get through it.
Psalm 56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Have you experienced grief in your life? Explain. What are some things people did that were helpful to you in your grief? What about unhelpful things?
- Why is it important to know that grief is unique to each person?
- Why is it important to do things to remember a lost loved one? What are some other creative things you could encourage your teen to honor a loved one?
- What are some signs that you may be losing patience with your teenager’s grief? What can you do to protect against that?
- Read Psalm 56:8. How can you use this verse to encourage a grieving teen?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.