Dealing with Grief in Teenagers

Discover how you can help teenagers deal with the loss of a loved one…

Loss hits us all differently and there’s no one-size fits all solution for grief. The sadness, pain, and even anger can become overwhelming, making life very difficult indeed. It can be even harder for a teenager to deal with grief so it is really important to understand how grief works and how it can affect teens. Teen grieving can be especially tough. Everyone deals with death in their own way, but there are recognised stages of grief that most people will face including teens and young adults.

The Stages of Grief

  • Denial. They may initially refuse to believe that someone has died. This is their body’s way of protecting them from feeling overwhelmed as they try to process the shock and emotions that crash over them.
  • Sadness. They can feel a deep sadness that they will never see that person again.
  • Numb. Many people feel numbness after a death. They may feel unable to cry or struggle to express sadness.
  • Anger. They may feel angry at the person for dying and leaving them.
  • Relief. They may feel a sense of relief at a person’s passing, especially if they were in poor health for some time, or in pain.
  • Guilt. They may experience guilt for being relieved that someone has passed. They might not have had the best of relationships with the deceased or have feelings of regret that they didn’t say or do something while that person was still alive.
  • Scared and/or shocked. The news of the death may have come as a great shock to the teen, or they may feel frightened about what lies ahead in the journey of grief.

While this is certainly not a definitive path of the grief experience for everyone, it is a good indication of the various emotions the teen may be feeling. What is probably true for everyone is that grief takes time. It’s a healing process and it will change pace and direction in the same way as a river does. Teenagers may find this takes longer than adults so it is important to understand this as a parent or carer and not try to rush the process. As always with children, teens, and young people; be patient and understand things can be harder when we are growing up.

Helping Your Teen Cope with Grief

Teenagers can be particularly sensitive to grief. They’re young adults, in the process of changing from children to grown-ups, and their emotional maturity changes like the wind. They’re at a vulnerable age as they try to make sense of their world and face the challenges and adventures of the adult landscape. It may be that the teen has never experienced loss before now and this is a new experience for them. Whatever the situation, there are ways you can guide and support teenagers through grief.

Talking – How to Talk to a Greiving Teenager

It’s important to have open and honest conversations with teens and be available to answer any questions they might have. It’s normal for teens to be curious about how a person has died or what will happen at the funeral. Let them know that no subject is too taboo – some things might be difficult to talk about but it’s important to be as open as you possibly can be.  


Reassure teens that the range of emotions they might be experiencing is completely normal. It’s OK to be scared, sad, angry and confused, all at the same time. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or to struggle to make sense of the situation. You can’t make promises that these feelings will go away, but you can make a promise that you will always be available to talk about it to support them.


Encourage teens to be kind and patient with themselves. If they’re having a particularly tough day, there’s no shame in having a cry and a chat or taking some time out for a walk or nap. Coping mechanisms are as individual as we are so help teens find what works for them. Keep an eye on teen’s health and hygiene. Encourage them to get plenty of rest and to eat well.

Saying Goodbye

Funerals, coffins and distressed family members are a frightening scenario for most people, let alone young adults. The best way to address any fears teenagers might have is to let them know what to expect from a funeral service. Talk through exactly what will happen and answer any questions they might have. Now they have a clear picture of what to expect, they can make an informed decision about whether or not to attend.

Grief Counseling for Teens

In some cases, it may be useful to seek some professional advice and support. This can come in the form of grief counselling for teens or as a family or group. With the right support and encouragement, it can be very positive. As always, remember not to force things as this can be upsetting and slow down the grieving process as well as cause other issues.


For your greiving teen: https://ionpadel.com/for-me/family-and-relationships/grief/how-do-i-cope-with-grief/

For you: https://www.sueryder.org/how-we-can-help/someone-close-to-me-has-died/advice-and-support/supporting-young-people-with-grief?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIq-iGz4a37wIVG-ztCh14uAjkEAAYASAAEgIE0vD_BwE


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