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Losing a Loved One

Person dealing with losing a loved one

Grief and loss are a natural part of life and cannot be avoided entirely. People age and get sick and eventually pass away. No matter what you do, you will eventually lose someone close to you, whether a family member or friend. Experiencing a significant loss this way can completely change a person’s life. It can feel like a part of you has been stolen when you lose someone you love. Teens who have known their family member or loved one their whole life can feel their whole world is turned upside-down. This can cause them to become depressed or even lash out at those who are grieving beside them.

If you are looking for grief and loss therapy in Fort Collins, our mental health professionals are more than happy to help. At Imagine Fort Collins, our compassionate therapists understand how difficult it is for teens to go through these emotionally challenging experiences for the first time. Teen grief and loss are unique to each adolescent. Sometimes, they need guidance to understand and work through their emotions. If your child is struggling in the wake of losing a family member or friend, contact us at 888.291.2309 to get them the support they need.

How to Help Your Teen Deal with Losing a Loved One

It can be heartbreaking to see your child experience the whirlwind of emotions from the death of a family member or friend. However, there are some general guidelines for you to be able to support them as they grieve:

  • Normalize their experience – Emphasize to your teen that their grief is normal and natural and that they should grieve how they want, so long as they do not turn to self-destructive behaviors.
  • Keep up a routine – Most teens prefer to have some sense of normalcy amid their experience with death, so carrying on with daily activities such as chores and extracurricular activities can be helpful.
  • Follow their lead – Be open to your teen’s ideas about how to grieve or honor the deceased, and encourage them to tell you what they want to do and how they want to do it.

Adolescents are intelligent, and by age 13 to 17, they generally understand death and mortality. However, they don’t have the experience or tools to get through their grief and begin healing from it.

Signs Your Teen Is Experiencing Grief

For some teens, a death in the family is their first time experiencing what it’s like to lose a loved one. Many people find this kind of close brush with mortality unnerving and trauma-inducing. Reactions to grief can vary from person to person, as everyone has their own way of processing the deep feeling of loss. However, some responses to grief are universal and can be considered normal or expected. These signs can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Guilt about things they’ve done or not done
  • Mood swings
  • Numbness or emptiness

These signs and symptoms are expected immediately after losing a loved one and are not a cause for undue concern. However, if you notice that your teen has been experiencing these symptoms for an extended period, consider getting professional support. You should also be careful if you see that:

  • The symptoms are getting worse over time, not better
  • Suicidal ideation, or expressing a desire to join their loved one
  • Saying that they can speak or communicate with the deceased
  • Imitating their loved one or adopting mannerisms, clothes, or speech associated with the deceased

All these are indications that they are unable to process their grief properly.

Learn More About Working Through Grief at Imagine Fort Collins

Not every child needs therapeutic support for grief, but all children are individuals, and those having difficulty coping with a loss may benefit from grief counseling. A grief and loss therapy program can help your teen cope with their grief and teach them techniques and tools to begin the healing process. At Imagine Fort Collins, our grief and loss counselors are standing by to provide whatever support your teen requires. Contact Imagine Fort Collins at 888.291.2309 to learn more about our grief and loss therapy program.