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How to Comfort the
Bereaved Teen
What is Happening to
1. Be present to them with loving
In certain stages of grief, your
body may react with physical
symptoms. You may have:
2. Permit teens to own their pain.
To empathize is one thing; to
interfere is another.
3. Listen with your heart. Allow
their sorrow to surface so they
can heal.
4. Accept any and all expressions
of grief.
5. Permit the teen to talk about
the loss. Talking is
6. Be available to comfort during
bouts of intense grief and
7. Encourage rest, nutrition and
8. A simple “thinking of you”
note promotes healing.
9. Be willing to listen, listen,
listen and listen again.
Discussing the deceased is a
necessary part of healing.
10. Mention the deceased by
name. It encourages the teen
to talk.
∗ tight chest,
∗ shortness of breath,
∗ diarrhea,
∗ constipation,
∗ restlessness,
∗ aimless activity,
∗ emptiness,
∗ nightmares,
∗ insomnia,
∗ changes in eating and
sleeping patterns.
Some things that may
Talk about the deceased and
their death.
∗ Share your thoughts with
someone you trust and are
comfortable talking to.
Be open to new activities and
friendships and think about
renewing former relationships.
Understand that grief is a
natural process. This is a journey
between how things were and
how they will be.
Information for Those
Who Have
Experienced Loss
Make no unnecessary,
immediate changes.
You may have strong, often
conflicting feelings:
∗ anger
∗ sadness
∗ feeling lost
∗ being overwhelmed
∗ feeling anxious
∗ unrealistic fears about others
and yourself
* You may be forgetful,
confused, unable to concentrate
or understand
Take good care of yourself; try
to eat well, get plenty of exercise
and sleep.
Keep to a simple daily routine,
stay in contact with people that
you feel good being with.
Remember, you are not alone in
your grief, others experience
reactions similar to yours.
If your grief is very prolonged or
prevents you from performing
basic activities of daily living, you
may want to ask your doctor
about getting professional help.
41 Millwood Drive, Lr. Sackville, N.S.
B4E 0A1
Ph: (902) 864-7535 | Fx: (902) 864-7567
mwhs @
Compiled by: Andrew Gosney, CCC
Grief and Loss
Stages of Grief:
Everyone experiences loss at
some point in their life. Grief is
normal after a loss. Although
each of us experiences grief in
different ways, our experiences
can be similar to those of others.
Shock and Denial
Shock may cause you to deny
your loss at first, as well as at
various points in your early
healing. In the first few days after
the loss, you may experience
feelings of numbness that protect
you from its impact.
Sources of Loss
Alcohol/drug use by a loved one
Death of a loved one
Death of a pet
Ending a relationship
Fire or theft
Incarceration of a loved one
Loss of health or mobility
Loss of a special possession
Military deployment
Moving to a new location/school
Violence – as a victim or a
It is important to understand that
grief is a process that may involve
experiencing difficult emotions.
The following is a list of the “stages
of grief”. You may not experience
them in the order given. You may
find that a stage you thought you
were done with suddenly
reappears. Don’t feel you are
alone—this is normal.
You may feel that your loss is
unfair…”why me?” You may also
feel angry at yourself or others for
not preventing your loss.
Guilt is a normal feeling. For
example, you may feel guilty that
you are alive and your loved one
is not. You may feel guilty even
though there is nothing you could
have done to prevent the loss.
You may feel drained and unable
to carry out your normal routine.
Everything in your world may
appear uninteresting and
Loneliness and Anxiety
As the reality of your loss
becomes clear, you may feel very
alone and anxious about what
your life means now and in the
days to come.
Eventually you will move into
acceptance. This is a time of
rebuilding your life around your loss.
Grief is different for everyone.
Grief is a high stressor.
Grief takes a long time.
Grief is an emotional roller coaster.
A grieving person may have
extreme emotional highs and lows.
Grief returns on holidays,
anniversaries, birthdays, and other
special events.
In a grieving student, the following
changes in behaviour and/or
occurrence of symptoms constitute a
high-risk student for whom a referral
for professional evaluation may be
Drop in grades
Angry outbursts
Discussions about wanting to die
Changes in physical symptoms
Feelings of guilt
Lack of communication
Identity change
Isolation or withdrawal
Use of drugs or alcohol
Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) is an
emotional and psychological
reaction to trauma caused by a
painful and shocking experience.
The stress resulting from this
sudden shock may show up days,
weeks, or even months later. In
the days and weeks ahead,
parents need to look for:
Recurring recollections of the
event that interfere with school
and home life.
Recurring nightmares.
New problems not previously
experienced in falling/staying
asleep or sleeping too much.
Intense anxiety.
Avoidance of feelings.
Preoccupation with event.
Outbursts of irritability and
anger at home and school.
Being overwhelmed with
emotions – feeling out of
Difficulty concentrating on
things usually enjoyed.
Significant decrease in normal
activities at home and school.
Detachment & withdrawal from