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Grief

when does grief become unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy

Trauma Treatment Center for Teens: When Grief Becomes Unhealthy 2560 1707 se_admin

Grief–we all feel it at some point in our lives, but for some, it’s experienced far too early on. The first experience of grief can be through the loss of a friendship or the death of a pet or a grandparent. As a trauma treatment center for teens, we know that grief is a natural response to loss, most frequently having to deal with the death of a loved one–but this natural response can run out of control. It can fill an individual with unrelenting sadness and hopelessness, essentially making daily life a struggle. Untreated, this type of grief can ruin a person’s life–which is why it is so critical to understand what is normal and what is not when it comes to grief.

What can cause grief?

When you think of grief, what comes to mind? For most people, they think of losing a loved one–this is the most frequent cause of grief. There are other causes, though. Grief can arise when an individual or a loved one of the individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Even the loss of a relationship or friendship can trigger strong feelings of grief.

Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, a young adult may feel grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, or even experiencing a career change. Whatever their loss, that grief is a personal thing. If that person, animal, relationship, or circumstance they lost was significant to them, it is normal to grieve that loss. There is no reason to feel ashamed of those feelings of grief. Sometimes people experiencing what they consider to be “smaller” losses may feel like they do not have the same right to grieve as people who have suffered larger tragedies. But the reality is that whatever your loss, you are allowed to have your feelings. 

For adolescents, grief can be much different than in adults. Adults have had the time and experience to build up defenses and coping methods for grief–teenagers haven’t. In our trauma treatment center for teens, we know this can make the trauma of grief much more potent and unstable, which is why we treat it.

Dealing with Grief

Children and teens may experience grief differently than adults. They may be crying one moment, then enjoying an activity the next. But just as grief affects adults in different ways, each young person will have their own way of processing their grief. They may use distractions to keep from feeling overwhelmed, or they may experience episodes of depression, anxiety, or even outbursts of anger. 

When it comes to processing feelings of grief, encourage your teen to express their feelings. Emotions may feel tangled or confused, but give your daughter the space she needs to express whatever emotions may come up. Remind her that there is no right or wrong way to grieve a loss. She may have questions, so do your best to answer her questions honestly and clearly. You may not have all the answers, and that is OK. What matters the most is that your daughter knows that you are there for her during this difficult time. 

It can also be helpful to participate in the rituals that can provide comfort or closure. In the circumstance of a death, memorial services, funerals, or other traditions can help your daughter by being in the presence of other people who knew their loved one. These traditions can be a way to honor the person that they have lost. 

Grief can feel very lonely, even if they have loved ones around. Sharing their sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. A support group can be a beneficial tool to support your teen in their grief. The pain of grief can cause them to want to withdraw from others and isolate. But having the face-to-face support of other people is vital to healing from loss. 

It is also important to remind your daughter that dealing with grief will take time. Healing happens gradually and it cannot be forced or hurried. There is no “normal” timeline for healing from grief. For some people, they may feel better after a few weeks or months. For others, it may take years to begin to process that grief. Whatever she is experiencing with grief, help your daughter be patient with herself and the process. 

The difference between normal and harmful grief

As said before, grief is a normal, human response to loss. We feel grief when we’ve lost opportunities, relationships, friendships, and loved ones. It’s when that grief runs free with an uncontrollable force that it becomes an issue. 

Grief is something that is difficult to understand until you experience it. You can describe grief to someone, but experiencing it first hand is something completely different. This is why grief can be so challenging, and potentially traumatizing, for young adults. These big emotions can be devastating if they are not equipped with the proper coping methods. Grief can easily go from normal to extremely destructive. Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience symptoms such as:

  • Sleep disturbance: Teens who are experiencing harmful grief may experience sleep disturbances. This can manifest as lack of sleep or insomnia. Or excessive sleep, using sleep to avoid dealing with the pain of their emotions. 
  • Anger: Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, they may feel angry and resentful. If they lost a loved one, they may be angry with themself, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning them. They may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to them.
  • Guilt: They may feel responsible somehow, or guilty about whatever emotions they are feeling in their grief or what they think they should have or should not have done or said.
  • Fear: A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. They may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. They may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about their own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities they now face alone.
  • Isolation: Teens experiencing grief may begin to isolate themselves from family or friends. It could be because they don’t believe that anyone else can understand what they are going through. It could be because their peers feel awkward around them because they don’t know how to talk about their loss. It could also be that the feelings of grief feel too overwhelming and they feel that talking to other people about it is too painful. 

There may also be physical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, and aches and pains. When the symptoms of their grief begin to get in the way of daily life and throw an individual into a deep, deep depression, help should be sought out. 

If you believe your daughter is struggling with grief, trauma, or any other mental health issue, it’s critical to seek out help as soon as possible. Early intervention and treatment is the key to success in these cases–don’t wait until it’s too late.

How a Trauma Treatment Center Can Help

Young women who are dealing with harmful grief may benefit from a residential treatment program that specializes in dealing with trauma. A residential treatment center provides a unique combination of therapeutic techniques stemming from both traditional and holistic mental health treatments that are gender and age-specific. Here they will work with clinical professionals who can help them build the coping mechanisms they need to move through their grief and process it in a healthy way. 

As one of the leading trauma treatment programs for girls, programming is designed around a relationship-based approach to healing from trauma. While your daughter is attending Solstice East she will build relationships with peers and staff members. We have found that these relationships are essential to helping your daughter heal from her trauma and build a strong and empowered identity.

Solstice East supports a therapeutic culture where acceptance, change, and growth is recognized and embraced. Our approach employs the guidance of The Hero’s Journey and its themes, providing a foundation for our students to advance victoriously and grow closer to internal harmony. Solstice East students embark on a therapeutic journey that teaches inner growth and understanding and fosters positive relationships. Our groundbreaking approach allows our students to heal while compiling skills and practices to best serve them throughout their life journey.

Solstice East for Your Daughter

Solstice East is a trauma treatment center for teens–specifically for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls are often grappling with depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. In our trauma treatment center for teens, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness.

For more information about how our trauma treatment center for teens at Solstice East can help your daughter, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

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.

Coping with Grief: Understanding Grieving Styles 

Coping with Grief: Understanding Grieving Styles  150 150 se_admin

Coping with grief  is a difficult task. Many of us have different methods for coping with grief. A recent article by Psychology Today discussed how boys and girls handle grief differently. In the book Grief Beyond Gender: Understandings the Ways Men and Women Mourn, Dr. Terry Martin discusses the two patterns of grieving.

Styles of Grief

The first style of coping with grief is an intuitive pattern where individuals experience and express grief in an effective way. In this pattern, grieving individuals find strategies that are focused toward the expression of affect. The second pattern of coping with grief, is one that is labeled instrumental. Here, grief is experienced physically, such as in a restlessness or thought. Here the strategies individuals use tend to be, cognitive and active as well.

Some individuals may show a mix of patterns that draw from both intuitive and instrumental reactions and responses in the ways that individuals experience, express, and adapt to coping with grief. Other individuals may show inconsistencies between the ways that grief is experienced and expressed. These inconsistent patterns are labeled as dissonant.

As society we believe that there is a clear relation between gender and coping with grief, but this has been shown to not necessarily be true. The instrumental pattern of dissonant, is typical in the way many men grieve, due to contemporary patterns of male socialization. Women also may exhibit an instrumental style. And many women and men represent grievers who demonstrate more intuitive patterns. Clearly, patterns are influenced by gender but not determined by it.

Tips on Coping with Grief

If you find yourself have difficulty coping with grief, here are some tips on how to deal with grief in a healthy and productive way.

  • Listen. Don’t ignore your emotions–if you need to cry, that’s fine; if you need to sob, that’s fine; if you need to talk to someone, that’s fine. The important thing is to listen to what your body and feelings are trying to tell you.
  • Breathe. Deep breaths help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you calm yourself down when things get tough.
  • Be Aware. When dealing with teen grief, don’t just float through the days; take a moment to be mindful of what’s happening currently to you and others around you.
  • Cry. There’s a huge stigma against crying, but it’s your body’s way of coping and instead of avoiding it when you feel it coming, let it out.
  • Enjoy. Try to notice the small things that improve your day, like the taste of coffee or hitting 3 green lights in a row.
  • Don’t Be Hard on Yourself. Don’t think about other’s expectations of you, just your own. Be realistic and stop thinking about what you should do for other people–focus on you.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles social media addiction, please call 828-484-9946!