Coping With the Loss of a Teen by Suicide

grief candles

At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Carolyn Zahnow about The Shore Grief Center and tips she has to find healing after suicide loss.

Carolyn lost her son, Cameron, in 2005 when he was 18 years old.  In the video below, Carolyn shares advice on how to cope with this experience if you’re grieving after having lost your teenage child to suicide.

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • The first year is awful, Carolyn says, and describes it as being in a fog.
  • Carolyn first recommends going to a grief support group. Carolyn also attended hospice groups where they hit you with the hard truth that your future has been changed forever.
  • Attending those groups was admittedly hard, but a very eye-opening experience.
  • Carolyn also journaled every month for a whole year in order to clear her head in the morning so that she could function throughout the day.
  • You have to realize that there is a future. It will be a different future from what you had planned, but you will survive.
  • It’s common for parents to go through a stage where they feel angry, but Carolyn says that forgiveness is a powerful thing. Whoever you’re blaming, just forgive them because it won’t bring your child back.
  • Carolyn has written a book called “Save The Teens: Preventing Suicide, Depression, and Addiction.”
  • The book includes a whole year’s worth of Carolyn’s research about these topics while she was asking herself why her son took his own life.
  • By writing the book, Carolyn wanted to help other parents see what’s going on with their teen. Also included in the book is a lot of Carolyn’s son’s writing and art work.

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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  • Kris Omelia says:

    I just lost my son to suicide last week. He was having a great day with his girlfriend and friends. He went home and was playing xbox with his best friend, when his friend got off for a minute to use the bathroom and when he came back my son had disconnected. In that time my son wrote two notes one for me and his dad. My son had been living with his dad during the week for school with his dad for the school district. He dad had started to drink but he never told me how bad it was. From friends and his note to his dad, when his dad was drunk he would belittle him and tell him he was worthless. I am st a loss because we were so close and I think he didn’t want me to think of him as his dad did so he never told me. We just had a viewing and there were so many friends that there was a line out the door. I have never seen so many young men crying and telling me how Bryce always tried to make sure people were happy. Even would stop by my boyfriends parents house who both had just had surgery to see if he could bring them anything or take the garbage out without anybody asking him. He was just so sweet and I just don’t know how to cope. I tried talking to his dad and he has yet to shed a tear or go to his grave site. I just need help making it through each day. I really just want to disappear from my life.