Supporting Teens when a Parent Dies

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Supporting Teens when a Parent Dies

What do we tell teenagers when a parent dies?

Death is a fact of life. Adolescents, just like younger children, need honesty; they have the ability to choose what is best for them in order to cope with the death of their mum or dad. They can model adult behavior and go through the tasks of mourning using good coping skills. Research suggests that adolescents are helped by activities that reduce stress like sports, dancing, playing a musical instrument or drama. By reading and journaling teenagers get a better understanding of their experience and they don’t feel isolated; it’s a good way of coping with their loss and grief.

Many adolescents who are bereaved experience feelings of depression that can be overcome if the adolescent is supported by the other parent, a sibling, a friend or a counsellor. If he is comforted, if he can express his grief, he will start to mourn the parent he had lost in a healthy way. He will experience the stages of grief and will go from shock, disbelief or denial, to anger, to bargaining and eventually to accepting the death and he will move on with his life.

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