Grief is a universal experience. It is a natural response to a loss. However, it can also be a difficult experience particularly during adolescence when there are a great deal of other changes occurring.
Adolescence is an important transitional phase. It is an exciting and complex stage of the life span. Behavioural, social, cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual development and growth are in rapid process.
Understanding and grappling with issues related to identity, independence and peers takes on a natural urgency for young people during this time. Coming to an awareness and acceptance of one’s changing body and mind and pushing the boundaries to experiment with dress, hairstyles, peer groups, drugs and alcohol are a part of working out belonging and values.
During adolescence, grief has the potential to accelerate or inhibit development. Young people can often feel overwhelmed and confused by the intensity and range of feelings they are experiencing. Their limited life experience may not prepare them to handle intense feelings in safe ways.
Many young people feel conflicted about seeking support from their parents as they are also striving for independence. They may feel alienated from peers and struggle to concentrate at school. These factors can create vulnerability, which may lead to isolation, confusion and increased risk-taking behaviour.
Tears, intolerance of others, mood changes, disjointed conversations, resentment, restlessness, erratic decision making.
Isolation, withdrawal, abusing drugs/alcohol, risk-taking behaviour.
Confusion, sense of unreality, forgetfulness, racing mind, poor concentration.
Numbness, sadness, anxiety, guilt, fear, helplessness, mood changes.
Change in appetite, change in sleeping, tiredness, headaches, colds, nausea.
Why me?, loss of meaning, questioning faith, challenging beliefs, desolation, searching for understanding.
The following are some creative ways which may assist in living with the experience of grief:
For specific information about how to speak with young people about suicide go to Tell me what happened.