Adolescents and Grief: Interview with Dr. Ken Doka

At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling) conference, I spoke with Dr. Ken Doka about adolescents and grief.

Adolescents have different issues when it comes to grief. Ken discusses these in detail in the video below.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • Adolescents are in transition, and because they’re in transition, sometimes their grief isn’t recognized or acknowledged by others around them.
  • Adolescents will often keep their grief hidden because they don’t like to appear different or needy; they would rather project independence and strength.
  • Adolescents often grieve while they’re isolated and alone. A younger child may seek the comfort of their parents when grieving a loss, while an adolescent would be more likely to go in their room and shut the door.
  • For adolescents, the experience at school is more fragmented as they’re not likely to have the same teacher all day who can notice changes in behavior.
  • When asked to give recommendations to parents, Ken suggests to first be sensitive to your child’s loss and give them the freedom to talk about it when they want. Significant changes in behavior and grades at school are signs that your child may be struggling with grief.
  • Contemporary adolescents are digital natives, so Ken suggests to keep an ongoing conversation about what your kids are doing on the Internet, what they’re learning, and if they’re finding any grief support online.

For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.

Gloria Horsley

More Articles Written by Gloria

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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