​Understanding adolescents can be a challenge and supporting grieving adolescents can be difficult. The feelings of grief may be intense and changeable. A grieving adolescent may be fearful of these feelings. It is common for a grieving adolescent to experience a certain amount of decreased ability to motivate themselves or concentrate for long periods of time. This can make school work challenging.

Many grieving adolescents feel as if no one else can understand their feelings or situation. Grieving adolescents may isolate themselves, hold their feelings inside and pretend everything is fine. Some grieving adolescents may feel overwhelmed and unsupported and turn to negative behaviors as a way to cope with the pain they are experiencing. Thoughts of suicide, use of alcohol or drugs, and increased sexual activity are indicators of a problem adjusting to the death of their loved one.

There are many ways adults can support grieving adolescents. Grieving adolescents need the opportunity to share their story of grief. Find opportunities that allow adolescent to share. The more they keep their feelings inside, the harder it becomes to express them. Unexpressed feelings fester within our bodies and can lead to greater problems. Writing gives our grief words. Putting thoughts and feelings in journals, letters to the person who has died, poems, and stories gives the grieving adolescent an avenue to express feelings.

Music plays an important role in the lives of adolescents. Communicating through music can enhance our understanding of grieving adolescents. Certain songs elicit feelings, thoughts and memories related to the person who has died. Music can help adolescents share what they are experiencing with someone else and break through the defenses of grief. Adolescents may want to write original music in tribute to the person who has died or select music that reminds them of their loved one and discuss these lyrics.

Art provides another creative outlet for grieving adolescent to create a visual image of their feelings and their story of grief. They may want to create a legacy such as a quilt or a memory box. These visual images can open communication and provide a healthy grieving process.

Although it may be difficult to support grieving adolescents, accompanying them on their journey of grief is a life changing experience.