In for Adolescents ... Understanding your grief
As a young adult, you are involved in the process of discovering who you are as an individual. This means you have started to move away from your family - emotionally, socially, and intellectually. This does not happen suddenly or easily, it is a difficult and confusing time. The different feelings you have will often conflict with one another. For example, you feel confident and insecure, invincible and vulnerable, angry and happy. It is hard to find a balance.
When death occurs, you may feel shocked that it could happen to your family, confused about how to react and overwhelmed by your emotions. You may feel alone even among friends or family; others don't seem to be able to understand what you are going through. You may find people suddenly expect you to act like an adult but still treat you like a child.
Your family may not be able to give you the support or security you need at this time. It may be one of them who has died, it mey be everyone else is grieving too, it may be they don't understand your feelings. This can leave you feeling angry and abandoned by them.
Because there are already so many changes in your life, the death may feel like one loss too many and you find yourself shutting down and withdrawing. It becomes even hard to find the balance.
These are all normal responses to loss
Other Common Reactions
- You will find yourself concerned about how the death will affect your personal life, now and in the future.
- You may find it more helpful to turn to friends or teachers for support, rather than family.
- You could feel guilt about things said or not said, done or not done.
- You may feel guilty for not having been closer (physically or emotionally) to the person who died.
- You probably want to spend more time alone.
- You may be afraid to view the dead person's body.
- You may want to remember only good things about the person who died. You push bad memories and thoughts to the back of your mind.
- You may not want to feel angry with the person who died and, so, blame otheres for the death and how it affects your life.
- You may feel totally empty and exhausted.
- You may not be able to cry.
- You may have trouble with sleeping or eating.
Teens Speak Out: High school students talk about death, grief, and loss: Bereaved Families of Ontario, 2002.This pamphlet was created by 6 teenagers who all lost someone special to them. It is a helpful resource for anyone wishing to support a teenager who has lost a loved one. Hard copies are available thorugh the office.
Voices of Youth Series: Bereaved Families of Ontario (Ottawa, 2010.) A resource on grief for youth by youth.
Links to the publications in this series appear below: