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Grief and Loss

coping skills for grief and loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Grief and Loss 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief and loss are a part of every person’s life. At some point, we will lose a pet, or a friend, or a loved one. And while it is natural and normal, that does not make it any easier when it happens. 

Grief is especially challenging for young people. They are experiencing loss for the first time, and with no previous experience of dealing with it, they may not know what to do. The sadness can feel overwhelming and they fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Common Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms 

While each person deals with grief differently, there are some common coping mechanisms that present themselves during loss. Unhealthy coping mechanisms may include: 

  • Denial- refusing to acknowledge their loss or grief.
  • Risk-taking behavior- this could include acting without thought of consequences and acting out through unhealthy relationships.
  • Substance abuse- turning to alcohol or drugs to numb their feelings.
  • Over or under eating- using food as a tool to numb or distract.
  • Obsessing/Controlling- since they could not control their loss, they may seek to control what they can. 

There can be many factors, including low self-esteem, or a history of untreated anxiety and depression that can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. There may be a sense of emptiness or lack of safety that makes their loss feel intolerable and this inability to tolerate the emotions leads to those unhealthy behaviors. 

Healthier Tools

There is no “right” way to deal with loss. Part of dealing with grief is understanding that it affects different people in different ways. Young people dealing with grief need to understand that the feelings they’re experiencing are okay and that there is no such thing as normal when it comes to loss. It might take one person a few weeks to start to feel lighter, while others require much more time. It is important to give themselves some patience and grace as they move through their stages of grief. Acknowledging their pain and seeking out help can aid them to begin to deal with their loss. There may be good days and hard days, but it is all a part of processing their emotions. Grief counseling can also be an effective tool for working through their pain. An experienced therapist can help them work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to their grieving.

Solstice East Can Help

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff.

The process of internal growth and change is facilitated by a succession of interventions aimed at helping our girls become young women of character. The process of developing and clarifying a positive value system, and learning to allow these values to drive their choices and behavior is a powerful process of growth. It is this process that drives internal growth, and once solidified, remains constant and growing long after graduation and into adulthood. For more information please call (828) 414-2980.

teens dealing with loss - Solstice East

Things Fall Apart: How to help your teen dealing with loss

Things Fall Apart: How to help your teen dealing with loss 640 427 se_admin

When a loved one dies, it may feel like the world is falling apart. This is true for all people, but especially true for teens. Teens are already dealing with so much emotional and physical growth and distress, dealing with loss can be extremely harmful to their development. Teens dealing with loss need all the help they can get.

Why it’s so tough dealing with loss

Although teens may begin to look like adults, they still need the same consistent emotional support they’ve needed their whole lives. Physical maturity does not always mean that teens are emotionally mature enough to handle dealing with loss.

Teens oftentimes experience sudden, unexpected losses. Parents may have heart attacks or strokes, friends may commit suicide, or siblings may die in car accidents. The suddenness of these kinds of deaths make it harder for teens dealing with loss.

Teens oftentimes experience a lack of support when someone close to them dies. Their younger siblings may get more attention because teens are expected to act like adults. If their parent dies, they are sometimes told that they must take care of the family. That means they have to stay strong for their family and not mourn properly. It’s important to not let this happen. Teens need to deal with loss just as much as anyone else.

When teens need your help

Knowing when a teen needs your help dealing with loss is important in helping them work through their grief. Signs that a grieving teen needs additional help include:

  • Relationships with friends and family falling apart
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Taking part in risky behavior such as alcohol and drug experimentation, fighting, or sexual promiscuity
  • Pretending to not be in pain and acting unnaturally mature
  • Depressed
  • Restless
  • Low self-esteem

What you can do

When teens are dealing with loss, they need the support of adults. Make them know that you care by asking them if they would like to talk with you about what they’re currently feeling. Let them know that they’re pain won’t last forever and that a piece of their loved one will stay with them forever in their memories.

You can also make them aware of peer support groups. Speaking with other peers going through the same emotional trauma they are can help teens on their path towards healing.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center that helps teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral issues. With a caring, experienced staff who know exactly how to help teens dealing with loss, Solstice East helps teens get through their grief and the behavioral and emotional repercussions that sometimes come with it.

For more information about Solstice East, please call 828-484-9946.