Teenagers and Loss


The teenage years can be a time of struggling with everything and everyone from parents, friends, school and authority.  The difficulty of teenagers separating from parents/family, becoming their own person and creating the independence necessary for their future can be a stressful process.  Now, add components of grief and loss.  How does this look and feel to the teenager and the people who are concerned for this individual? 

Take into account how the factors of unpredictable or uncontrollable emotions and hormones can be more difficult when grief and loss are present.  Positive supports from family, friends and community are needed at this time for continued development and understanding of the grief process.

There may be a need;

  • To express anger
  • Feel resentment
  • Feel uncertainty
  • Talk about their fears
  • To express sadness
  • To be alone
  • To vent or release rage
  • To be with peers
  • To be away from adults

Most of all it is important to be recognized as a grieving person too!

From a generalized, developmental aspect the part of the brain that controls emotions, impulses and decision making is not fully developed in a teenager.

Teenagers may;

  • Think their grief is different than what others experience
  • Try to suppress grief reactions
  • Respond as a younger child grieving
  • Seem to come and go with their grief reactions
  • Want to fit in with their friends and not be seen as different because of a loss

Teenagers need

  • Emotional support from adults
  • Minimal conflict in the home
  • Social support from friends
  • Talk with their friends about the loss BUT friends may not know what to say or do

I remember a story of several teenaged friends dying and no one talked about the deaths.  The teenager eventually grew up with a fear of letting people get too close to their heart and stated, “If someone gets too close to me and I tell them I care or I love them, then they will die”.

 Imagine, growing up with a fear of loving someone all connected to previous loss experiences that were never talked about. 

You can change this for the teenagers in your life…talk about grief and loss.


All my best

                        Barbara Saunders



“Image courtesy of   Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”