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I Feel like my kid is broken...now what?!

In this day and age of information and self-diagnosis, kids still struggle to adequately deal with what they are feeling, especially when it comes to grief. Often the emotions comes in like a fire hose, then the next minute they are laughing it off with friends, you think "Is this even normal?" Well, it may be more normal than you think...

Grief is an unavoidable part of life. No matter what you do, grief will find you.

Although it is a natural side effect of losing a loved one, we tend to have a pessimistic outlook on the grieving process. Many are taught at a young age that expressing “negative” emotions is wrong, which makes the grieving process profoundly difficult.

The reality is, however, losing someone you love is a heart-wrenching experience for anyone, which means crying, screaming into your pillow, and distancing yourself are all acceptable ways to cope.

But for many, grief is first experienced during adolescence when coping skills are only just beginning to surface, specifically during the ages of 13 to 18.

 

During this stage of our lives, our bodies are developing both physically and mentally. This makes the grieving process, on top of self-discovery and self-identity, a grueling ordeal.

Many adolescents have an adult understanding of the concept of death but do not have the experiences, coping skills, or behavior of an adult. For bereaved teens who haven’t yet experienced the landslide of emotions related to loss, most will not possess sufficient self-care knowledge to properly cope.

There are many children’s books and movies, such as Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion King, and Up (to name a few), that deal with grief and loss. Through these books and movies, we are taught what death is, but we are not taught how to deal with it.

For parents, family and caregivers to teenagers, it is important to normalize the whirlwind of emotions they may be feeling.

Telling the teen to “be strong” may cause anxiety and cause them to hide their emotions or act “fine” when they really are not.

 

Instead, tell the teen that it is okay to cry, to distance themselves, and to do what brings them comfort (so long as they do not turn to self-destructive behaviors).

It is also important to foster real conversations with them. If they are acting out, set the tone for conversation by showing that you understand what may be causing this, that you know this isn’t who they are, but a symptom, perhaps, of not being able to talk about how they feel. Remind them that adults, too, go through this –– not that that makes it okay.

Check out some of the articles below for ideas on HEALTHY WAYS of teaching them to cope and to deal with their grief. 

Check out these resources on helping teens deal with grief

Check Out These Videos

An Introduction to Mental Illness

Common Misconceptions and Myths

Explaining the Increase In Mental Illness

 Mental Illness Neurologically Explained

Partnering With Your Student

Good First Steps

Strategies to Process the Diagnosis

Recognizing the Impact on the family