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How to Comfort the Bereaved Teen What is Happening to Me? 1. Be present to them with loving compassion. 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 therapeutic. 6. Be available to comfort during bouts of intense grief and loneliness. 7. Encourage rest, nutrition and exercise. 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 help… Talk about the deceased and their death. ∗ Grief: ∗ 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. MILLWOOD HIGH GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT 41 Millwood Drive, Lr. Sackville, N.S. B4E 0A1 Ph: (902) 864-7535 | Fx: (902) 864-7567 mwhs @ hrsb.ns.ca 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 Abandonment Alcohol/drug use by a loved one Death of a loved one Death of a pet Divorce Ending a relationship Fire or theft Homelessness 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 witness 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. Anger 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 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. Depression You may feel drained and unable to carry out your normal routine. Everything in your world may appear uninteresting and hopeless. 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. Acceptance Eventually you will move into acceptance. This is a time of rebuilding your life around your loss. Remember 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. HIGH RISK STUDENTS 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 appropriate: Drop in grades Angry outbursts Hyperactivity Depression 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 control. Difficulty concentrating on things usually enjoyed. Significant decrease in normal activities at home and school. Detachment & withdrawal from friends. Depression.