DEALING WITH LOSS
Perhaps the most devastating process that can happen in the life of a teen is the death of a loved one. Whether it is a parent, sibling, close friend, or an extended family member to whom the teen was particularly close, teens usually have a far more difficult time grappling with death than do adults. Even the loss of a beloved pet may cause extreme teen grief. A teen’s reaction to death may be so profound that he or she begins to act out or resort to substance abuse to cope with the tragedy. In teens who are already exhibiting signs of behavioral problems such as teenage eating disorders or mental health issues, the problems could worsen.
A SAFE SPACE
At Polaris Teen Center, an adolescent mental health facility in Los Angeles, we understand the special needs of the grieving teen. Here, our trained counselors can help parents navigate the teen’s feelings and create a space in which the son or daughter is allowed to freely and honestly express his or her feelings. Often, this time of grief and the expert counseling provided by a staff found at our teen mental health center can be an impetus for the teen to make a course correction in life or to channel their feelings into a worthwhile cause or project. For some teens, this may mean volunteering time at an appropriate non-profit organization. For others, it may mean keeping a journal.
A UNIQUE APPROACH
There is no one-size-fits-all method of counseling a teen through a period of grief. Each teen is different and each death incident is different. Their grief could easily be affected by the death incident:
In a sudden death due to an accident or health problem such as a heart attack, teens are left with a personal void that can never be filled, that is, they are forever unable to create closure with the deceased. This element of grief requires deft handling of the emotions the teen is facing.
When the death occurs after lengthy, lingering illness, teens may start to wonder why the loved one was put through the agony of the illness. When the loved one resides in the same home as the teen, the teen may have a front row seat to an event that will live with him or her forever.
On occasion, teens face multiple deaths in the family or among their other life contacts. When this happens, there is an increased chance that the teen will feel isolated. Working through these feelings to help the teen move on is part of the process at Polaris adolescent treatment center.
A suicide is not only a death, it is accompanied by a social stigma that teens must face not only in school, but in social media, too.
Though the causes of bipolar disorder are not yet firm, the heavy correlation between genetics and the presence of a parent with bipolar disorder helps identify the condition early to help make it manageable.
Bipolar disorder is diagnosable in up to 3% of American teenagers. But for parents and teenagers alike, this condition can be both confusing and frustrating, especially if they do not understand it entirely.
LEARNING TO COPE
The death of a loved one is often accompanied by guilt, which is amplified in teens. Teens may hold on to the mistaken belief that they either caused the death, or did not do enough to prevent it. Regardless of the circumstances of your teen’s grief, the trained counselors at Polaris Teen Center, an adolescent mental health facility, have the knowledge to guide them through this difficult period, to help them cope, and to help them understand that their feelings are justified. Our teen treatment center provides an environment that supports healing within the whole family by involving parents and loved ones in the grief treatment process.