Teens can grieve differently than adults. Dr. Gloria Horsley interviews Julie White of the Willow Center in Idaho. White runs teen groups, and finds that teens need the support of one another after a loss. They like to lean on each other to know they’re not alone. Sometimes in school, they feel like an outcast. Feeling like a loner or outsider makes the teenage years even more difficult. However, sometimes it can be challenging to get teens to show up. You need to be flexible and plan for any sized group.
Facilitators are informed of the type of loss so they can be adaptable. Dr. Horsley says that her son died as a teen. Her teenage daughter was torn, because some people wanted her to talk about her brother—and other times she was told to focus on school. Teens have a lot of emotional ups and downs no matter what, and a loss can exacerbate these emotions.
Teens in Grief
Adults who maintain flexibility do best with grieving teens. Some teens need movement in order to process grief, while others like to talk, write, or grieve in other ways. Teens can lose friends after a loss, since their friends don’t understand. Other teens don’t want to talk about it with their friends, so they isolate themselves.
At the Willow Center, a rural area makes it even more of a challenge for some local teens to connect. It’s critical for adults to be informed and have help. Find an organization that can help your teen. Camps can be a great source of support, and they are accessible in short-term and long-term stretches. No matter where you live in the US, there’s a group nearby. Know that if you’ve lost hope, lean on the Open to Hope Foundation and other organizations until you find it.