Grief in Teens

You may be reading this because someone you care about is dying or has died. You may also be concerned about how to help someone who is grieving. This section will give you some information about grief and trauma and ideas that may be helpful in facing grief.

If you are considering suicide, tell a caring, trustworthy adult, such as a school counselor, teacher, parent or adult friend. If you think you may commit suicide, call 911 or get to a hospital emergency room. There is help and hope out there.

Grief FAQ’s

* Grief is a normal response to loss
* There is no “right” way to grieve
* There is no set time for grief to “be over”
* There are many expected and unexpected feelings that come with grief
* When you are still, like at night or in class, you may have a flood of feelings
* It may be difficult to concentrate or remember
* You may feel “different” because of the loss
* Over 5.4 million children and teens in the US have at least one parent who died
* Many others have siblings who die
* Even more have friends, grandparents, cousins and other relatives who die
* YOU ARE NOT ALONE, but grief can make you feel very alone

Some Normal Feelings and Thoughts

* Numbness (no feelings)
* Shock
* Deep sadness
* Anger
* Relief
* Detachment (indifference)
* Fear that others may die
* Belief that you will die soon
* Nervousness or anxiety
* Worry
* Appetite changes
* Stomachaches and headaches (get checked out by a doctor, just to be sure you are healthy and it is grief that is causing this)
* Wishing to be with your loved one…this is different than wanting to commit suicide
* “If only I had _______”, my loved one would be alive
* Don’t want to show true feelings in public

Grade Changes:

You may have changes in grades following a death.  School may not seem as important as the loss.  Grieving also takes a LOT of mental and emotional energy!

It may be difficult to focus on studies and remember.  Adults have the same problem when a special person dies.

It may take months for concentration and memory to come back.

Let the school counselor or teacher know that you are having a problem.  Refer them to this website to help them understand.

There is nothing wrong with you.  Your thinking will clear after a time.

Take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating well and taking care of your feelings.

Do the best you can.  Accept yourself!

Some students do better in school after a loved one dies.

Sometimes it is because a stressful situation is over.  Sometimes it may be to send a deceased loved one a message.

Be sure to take care of yourself during this time by getting enough rest, eating well and taking care of your feelings.


Trauma happens when someone is involved in a violent or life-threatening event.  It also happens sometimes when those we care about are involved in a violent event that ends in death or serious injury.

Common Feelings after Trauma

* Shock
* Numbness (no feeling)
* Can’t believe it happened (denial)
* Anger
* Scared
* Guilty
* Nervous
* Nightmares
* Difficulty concentrating
* Won’t go near reminders of what happened
* Need to sleep with light on or sound in room
* Jumpy

Physical sensations

* sweating
* nausea
* racing heart
* tightness in chest
* vomiting
* no energy
* stomachaches
* headaches
* bedwetting

Reprinted with permission from the Children’s Grief Education Association