Chapter 1: How children grieve
Youth: Age 12 – 18
Jalil's friends were his preferred source of support but I worried about whether they could give him the help he needed.
Children at this stage don’t move in and out of grief as quickly as young children. Some are so overwhelmed by the intensity of their feelings that they try to avoid them or shut them off. Others worry that they aren’t “feeling enough.” Their grief can seem unpredictable and even explosive at times. They may be withdrawn one minute and incredibly angry the next. Their reactions, such as an argument with a sibling or caregiver, can seem unconnected to the illness or death.
Concern for the future
They commonly focus on how the illness or death will affect their daily life and their future:
The friend factor
Children at this stage are becoming more independent and focused on friendships. Many prefer to express their grief privately or with their friends. However, they may find that their friends “just don’t get it.” As a result, many end up doing much of their grieving in isolation.
Adults can find it very challenging when their children don’t share thoughts and feelings with them. You may wonder: Is my child grieving at all?
Keeping the door open
Try to remember that they’re grieving while their brains are experiencing a great deal of change. They are also navigating the new expectations that come with growing up. Lines of communication can be kept open with patience, understanding, and reminders that you love them and are available for them.