Teen grief cuts deep. It opens the wound and feelings gush.
Weeping and wailing filled my small counseling office. The fifteen teens were all friends of a young man who had taken his life. Teens are messy when they grieve. Tears and snot cover faces, sleeves, and shoulders.
In Teen Grief, There Are Always Questions
After a while, the loud crying changed to soft sniveling, and they ask questions. Each teen wanted to know why this had happened. The emotions ranged from shock to guilt to fear. We were in that little office for over an hour. I began to wonder if we were getting anywhere since we kept returning to the same question: Why? It was a question that had no answer.
Teen Grief Includes Faith Questions
In a secular public school, I should not impose my beliefs on students. However, I had no answers outside my faith. Then one young man said, “Isn’t there a verse in Isaiah that says God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways not the same as ours? I guess we don’t have to understand everything.”
One of the girls nodded. “I’ve heard that all my life. But now when I want answers, that verse is real, not theology.”
The conversation continued between the two as they explored the omnipotence of God as well as his love for us. I sat back and listened, glad I had young people in my office who knew God and could speak for him when I should not. Other kids listened, asked questions, and contributed their own thoughts.
They didn’t find an answer to the question of why the young man took his life, but they accepted that they didn’t have to know.
End Teen Grief Sessions by Sharing Stories
I suggested that we all share some memories about the deceased. The tears were replaced with stories and laughter. That’s a good place to go after tears and questions—sharing memories together.
The kids left the office about the time school dismissed. They would go home and talk further with parents. Some parents would let the kids explore their grief. Others, at a loss about how to help, would shut down the emotions as quickly as possible.
Next week, we will look at teen grief and ways parents can help.