Grieving for Teens
What is grief?
Grief is the emotional pain that we feel after a loss. Grieving allows us to heal after losing
someone or something that was important to us. The pain that follows such a loss can seem
unbearable, but know that you can (and will) get through it.
Facts about grief:
; Grief is a natural response to loss.
; No one grieves the same way—everyone reacts differently to loss. Some people may cry a lot
or act angry. Others may not show any emotion at all, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not
; Denying or ignoring your feelings is harmful and only prolongs the grief process.
; Any grief response is appropriate unless it is harmful to yourself, others, or property.
The Stages of Grief
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has named five stages of grief that people go through following a
serious loss. You may move back and forth between the stages or go through them several times.
Grief often comes in waves. One day, you might feel okay but the next day you might feel
devastated. Remember that whatever you are feeling is a normal response to losing a loved one.
1. Denial and Isolation
“This can’t be happening. I just can’t believe it.”
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social
contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
“Why did this have to happen to ME?”
We then may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if he/she is dead), or at the
world, for letting it happen. We might be angry with ourselves for letting the event take place,
even if realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
“If I do this, will you take away the pain?”
We attempt to make deals to avoid the pain of the loss. We may beg, wish, or pray for them to
“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
During this stage we feel numb, frustrated, helpless, and bitter. Often, anger and sadness remain
underneath these feelings. We mourn not only the person, but also the hopes, dreams, and plans
for the future with the person.
“It’s going to be okay.”
Anger, sadness, and mourning have tapered off. We still hurt, but we have learned to live with the
pain and integrate it into our lives. We accept the reality of the loss and find comfort, healing, and
peace. We remember the fond memories of the person.
Common Reactions to Grief
sighing or forgetting what
yawning a lot you were going to
say or do
can cope one day,
can’t the next
fear of going crazy
or losing your mind
sleeping a lot…
…or not being able
asking, “why did this happen?”
getting angry easily
feeling numb or sick
detached from yourself
wanting to be alone
Caring for Yourself as You Grieve
; Remember that grieving is normal. Allow yourself to feel these intense emotions.
Although it may seem as though you’ll never get through it, know that you will.
; Participate in rituals and customs. Going to funerals, memorials, and other traditions
can help you to honor and remember the person.
; Talk about it when you can. Sometimes you may want to talk, but other times you may
not. Don’t feel pressured to talk, but it sometimes helps!
; Express yourself. Find ways to express your thoughts and emotions: listen to music, paint,
draw, run, punch pillows, journal, sing, make a cake, write poems, create or build something,
or even write a letter to the person.
; Exercise. Exercising releases endorphins—a chemical in your body that makes you feel
good. It’s a natural and healthy way to deal with intense emotions.
Go for a walk Lift weights Run
Play paintball Skateboard Yoga
Climb stairs Cycle Ski
Play laser-tag Hike Swim
Walk around the mall Dance Stretch
Take your dog to the park Shoot hoops Wakeboard
; Eat right. You may notice changes in your appetite. Try to maintain a healthy diet and eat
nutritious foods. Make sure to drink enough water.
; Join a support group. Ask your school counselor for resources about how to become
involved. Although no one can know exactly how you are feeling, it helps to know that
others are grieving, too.
; Create a memorial. Plant a flower or tree in memory of the person. Write a poem or
story and dedicate it. Create a plaque or mural to honor the person. Wear an armband or