Helping your teen cope with death

Goshen grief counselor offers advice on giving teens emotional support

It’s easy to assume that just because teens look like adults they can cope with death like an adult. But don’t be deceived. Emotional maturity hasn’t caught up with physical maturity. All too often an adolescent will not be able to express what they really need, especially when pressured by what they think people expect of them – to be strong and adult-like.


Death can leave a teen with a range of emotions: anger, hurt, sadness and even numbness. These feelings are all normal, but for an adolescent they can be overwhelming without the support and love of caring adults. Some teens may have difficulty expressing these feelings in a way that encourages healing.


According to Phil Parisi, DCSW, who specializes in counseling teens with the Center for Personal Recovery & Development in Goshen, “There are unexpressed ways a teen can say they are hurting inside.”


Watch for signs of the following in your teen:

  • escaping from reality by spending more time on computer sites and games
  • sleeping problems, which could be symptoms of depression or low self-esteem
  • academic or behavior problems in school
  • isolated or distracted behavior, or distancing themselves from family or friends
  • destructive behavior like drinking or drug abuse, getting into fights or being sexually promiscuous


Your teen may need additional support or counseling. Peer support groups can offer help towards healing. If you need help finding one or would like a counselor, reach out to your teen’s school. Check with your church or youth organization as well for assistance.


For more information visit Click on “children”.


Jean Campbell Galli is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living in Orange County.