Adolescents often believe that their grief is unique and incomprehensible to anyone else. Some may find themselves reacting in a new or unusual way which frightens them and may cause them to think that their reactions are abnormal. Others may limit their expressions of grief to brief outbursts because they are very concerned about how they are perceived by others, and they worry about losing emotional control.
Adults may have a tendency to dismiss the suffering of teenagers. But they may suffer intensely. They may be skilled at hiding the intensity of their grief, as they tend to hide their grief, which may develop into behaviour problems at a later date. As these may not appear to be “linked” to their grief by adults, adults may not be aware that it is a grief reaction.
Unfortunately, the needs of bereaved teenagers have been overlooked in the past. There are often grief support services available for adults and younger children, but teenagers have not always been provided with services. Teenagers can give mixed messages. They tell us what they need and expect our help, for example, providing them with food, but they also think that they can run their own lives. Because of this, people do not always know how to respond to teenagers. This can result in the teenager feeling alone with limited support.
During the period of adolescence, adolescents are attempting to define themselves. They test their limits and experiment with roles. For some teenagers, the idea of their own death or that of those close to them becomes a fairly important concern. For other teenagers, death may seem remote and they show little awareness or acknowledgement of it.
A death may affect a teenager in a number of ways:
- 1- If it is a parent who has died, this may affect the career possibilities that the teenager had been considering. For example, there may not be sufficient money to go to university.
- 2- The teenager might become defensive about death, using denial and attempts to distance themselves from the possibility of death in the future.
- 3- The teenager’s goals might be affected by grief and death.
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TEENAGERS AND GRIEF