Most teens know someone who passed away do to drug or alcohol use. The loss may be the friend, or sibling, who is no longer able to attend school or be part of your life because of his or her lifestyle. Or it may be someone who died in an accident resulting from alcohol use, or by overdose, or suicide. Any death of this kind is devastating and traumatic. The closer you were to the person who’s gone, the more painful it is. Know that you are not alone in your grief, and that thousands of others are suffering just like you.
Managing Grief In A Healthy Way
We’re going to give you a list of the things you can do to help you, but it’s important to know that you have the power to help yourself. Asking others for help is the most important thing you can do for yourself, plus, it helps them as much as it helps you. People around you want to help–friends your own age, relatives, teachers, counselors, your spiritual leaders all find hope and comfort in comforting you. That’s important to know.
It IS A Big Deal While Your Heart Is Broken
The trauma of losing a loved one at this age in this way is something that can cause lasting hurt. While coping skills are often similar to how adults cope with grief and loss, you also may find some healing techniques to be unique to being an adolescent. Let’s explore these techniques.
25 Coping Skills For Grief
- It’s healthier to admit your heart is broken – let yourself feel the grief.
- There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Your feelings, anger, sadness, and hurt are all normal. You’ll have many feelings, some of which may be disturbing. Those are the ones you need tools to deal with.
- Some deaths are more difficult to cope with than others, no question about that. Avoidable deaths can hurt even more.
- Grief is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you’ll be calm and sad. Other times you overwhelmed by what went wrong and feel as though you can’t cope.
- You may feel guilty, especially if the friend died from an overdose and you were there. If you had given up on them and were not there to help, know that they chose to use and it’s not your fault.
- Hormones may contribute to overwhelming feelings such as despondency, despair, depression, and because of this, you may have thoughts of suicide.
- If you feel suicidal, immediately talk to someone you trust such as a parent, a teacher, or a counselor call the teen suicide hotline.
- Your thoughts and feelings are nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t need to feel embarrassed.
- Be open and honest with friends about how you feel.
- Thoughts and feelings aren’t facts – if you feel suicidal, it doesn’t mean you have to attempt suicide, or you will attempt suicide. It means that you are in significant pain and you need help. Tell someone.
- It’s common to feel angry, hurt, or abandoned because someone died and left you, or chose using over you.
- Don’t develop unhealthy ways to try to cope with the loss – using substances, skipping school, or cutting yourself. Again this is the time to find someone who can help you.
- There are many to cope with your feelings that don’t involve talking about it over and over or hurting yourself. You can write in a journal, draw, exercise, create a memory book of the loved one, put flowers on a grave. You can attend the funeral.
- It’s perfectly possible to grieve, laugh, do well at school, and have fun at the same time. You’re one person, but have lots of different parts that can be nourished in so many ways.
- Yes, there will be plenty of gossip about the person who has died. This can be especially painful if it’s your closest friend, a sibling, or a parent. Try to let it go. Gossip is just that.
- You may feel that the world is now an unsafe place or that your belief system has been damaged – explore ways to feel safe and to think about life’s meaning.
- Watch out for numbing yourself from the pain in order to try to feel better – numbing doesn’t work in the long run.
- Be careful not to just throw yourself into school or work as a way to cope. Everything in moderation.
- Use social media to help you as there are numerous ways to learn, cope, and heal through grief, including online grief support groups.
- Make sure you are doing the basics in life – eating healthy, resting and sleeping, exercising.
- Ask others questions regarding life and death.
- Seek a spiritual mentor if religion and spirituality are important to you. Or do spiritual activities such as praying, having fun, playing in nature, being creative, meditating, discussing spiritual questions.
- Be kind to yourself and others.
- Consider counseling at school or outside individual or group therapy.
- Understand that by working through the pain, while it won’t totally go away, you can grow and heal and also help others.
While grief is heart-wrenching, you can go beyond surviving the sorrow to once again, being able to thrive and enjoy life’s ups and downs.