Three ways to support a teen who is grieving, in partnership with the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families
Have you ever struggled to know what to say to a teen or young adult grieving the death of a loved one? We're here to help.
We've partnered with Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families to craft text messages for teens and the people supporting them. If you're the friend, family member, coach, teacher, or neighbor of a teen who's lost a significant person, consider signing up for Grief Coach to get helpful wisdom and suggestions sent straight to your phone each week.
To get you started, here are three of our favorite support tips from Dougy Center:
1. Share a Memory of the Person Who Died
Sometimes, people surrounding a grieving teen worry that bringing up the person who died will make them sad or distract them from their studies. But time and time again, grievers of all ages let us know that sharing memories of their person helps them remember them fondly and reminds them that others haven't forgotten how special and important their person was.
"Hey Juliette. I was remembering the time Aunt Poppy took us skiing. Did you know she was the one who taught me how to ski backwards? She was so much fun to hang out with."
2. Continue Normal Conversations and Jokes
If the teen you're supporting liked an animal, food, song, or TV show before the death of their person, chances are, they'll still like it afterwards. While you should let their loss inform your interactions, you don't have to change your entire way of speaking when it comes to talking to a teen who's grieving. If the two of you shared an inside joke, a love of a specific movie or TV series, a special hobby, or a secret handshake before their person died, keep incorporating it into your relationship. It can help them feel like you see them in all of their humanity—not just as a griever.
"Hi Clover—no need to reply. I found this silly picture of a cat in a crown and thought you'd like it. I'm here."
3. Help Them Find Additional Resources
Experiencing the death of a significant person as a teenager or young adult can be isolating. You can support them by directing them to resources and communities designed especially for people who experience loss in their teens. Dougy Center is a great place to start.
"Hey Shane. I just stumbled across the Grieving Teens Bill of Rights from Dougy Center. Do any of the rights resonate with you? I'm open to hearing what you think."
There are so many ways to be there for a teen who's grieving. To receive more tips on supporting a grieving friend from Dougy Center and other grief experts, sign up for Grief Coach texts.