Losing someone you love is never easy, but it's even harder during the teen years when you are still gaining perspective on the world and have not yet experienced much loss. If your teen has lost someone close to them, it's important that you, as their parent, are there to help them through the grieving process. Here are four ways you can do just that.
1. Don't force them to talk about it.
Talking about grief can help people get over it, but your teen has to be ready to talk for those conversations to be productive. Try not to force them to speak with you about their grief. Instead, let them know that when they are ready to talk, you are there. Let them take their time to think things through in their own head. It may take a day, a week, or even a month, but eventually, they will be ready to talk -- and they need to know you'll be available then.
2. Buy them books.
The books you would want to read on grief may not be the same books your child would want to read. So buying them a book outright may not be the best choice. A better approach is to give them $30 or so and then take them to the bookstore, allowing them to shop for their own book on grief. You could also give them a subscription to a service that lets them read unlimited e-books and strongly recommend that they look for ones related to grief.
3. Take them to counseling.
Consider scheduling your teen for a session with a therapist. Look for someone who specializes in grief counseling and troubled youth treatments and who has worked with teens in the past. Even a single session can help your teen get a handle on their feelings and gain perspective about what they are going through. Let your teen decide after the first session whether or not they want to continue with grief counseling. This way, it will feel like something they chose rather than something that is being forced upon them.
4. Lead by example.
Chances are, you are grieving over the loss of this person, too. Make sure you set a good example for your teen by being open about your feelings, talking about your grief, and seeking counseling, if needed. Your teen will learn how to grieve healthily from you, and this skill will serve them throughout their life.
I knew that I loved my husband, but I was having a very difficult time liking him most days. My husband acted much like an overgrown teenager expecting me to do everything for him. He couldn't be bothered to put his trash in the trash can, or put his dirty laundry in the hamper or even carry his dirty dishes to the sink so that I could wash them. After about 18 years of this behavior, I finally had to find someone to go to for help. We started seeing a counselor to try to find a way for me to like him again. It has helped some. My blog will show you a few ways that counseling can help you like your spouse as much as you love him or her.