Coping with grief as a teenager

It can be helpful to think of grief as a large box containing lots of other feelings. You may experience some or all of the feelings contained within the box. Feelings may come and go. Sometimes feelings will be very strong at other times they may be less intense.

We’d like to help you to understand some of the feelings that might be in your box. Everyone has their unique combination. Here’s just a few of the things you might feel -  

Relief

It might sound strange but if someone you care about dies after being ill and in pain or suffering a bad accident, you may feel relieved that they have died and are no longer suffering.

Guilt

Nobody is perfect. When we look back on our relationship with someone who has died and how we behaved it’s always possible to think how we might have done things differently and we feel guilty.

Sometimes when we are grieving we put ourselves under pressure to feel sad all the time and when we catch ourselves feeling other things, we can feel guilty and uncomfortable.

Embarrassment

When someone you care about dies it makes you different from other people who still have their loved one. This can feel uncomfortable. Grief also tends to make it harder to control your emotions. You may feel worried that you are going to break down in tears in front of people and make yourself feel even more vulnerable. Over time most people find that they learn how to manage their feelings and find ways to excuse themselves from situations if they feel overwhelmed.

Anger

The death of someone you care about can feel very unfair. It can make you feel angry that no-one prevented the death. Often people feel angry because in a way it’s safer to get angry than it is to allow yourself to acknowledge just how sad you feel underneath.

Sadness

Sadness is another of those feelings – like grief - that can be different for different people. Some people cry a lot and want to talk because they are sad. Some people push their feelings away to the point where it seems like they aren’t feeling anything at all and really don’t want to talk. Sadness can make us feel lethargic and uninterested in life. Or it can drive us to keep really busy in an attempt to avoid difficult feelings.


What can help?

It’s important to work out your own unique formula for helping yourself. It needs to fit who you are. Remember everyone’s grief is different.

  • Try to eat well and drink plenty of water – grief is stressful and you need to look after yourself
  • Get the balance right for you –there will be times when you want to talk, so try to find someone you trust. There will be times when you want to be quiet and that’s ok too.
  • Find things to distract yourself. There’s no rule that says you must think about the person who has died and feel sad all the time.  It’s good to find things that give you a break from painful feelings.
  • Give yourself permission to cry when you need to. Notice that no-one cries for ever. Eventually the feelings reach a peak and then start to subside a little.

If you are worried about anything that you are feeling or thinking then please find someone to talk to. Sometimes people need a bit of help with their grief. It’s good to keep an eye on yourself and make sure you ask for help if you need it.

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