Helping Teens Work through Grief

Helping Teens Work through Grief

Helping Teens Work through Grief

Helping Teens Work through Grief


The second edition of Helping Teens Work Through Grief provides a more complete and updated manual for facilitators of teen grief groups. It includes additional background information about developmental aspects of teens, the process of grief, aspects of trauma and its effects on teens, the value of a group, determining the group-appropriateness of particular teens, and parental involvement. The many details involved with beginning a group - publicity, interviews, registration, structure, closure, evaluation, and follow-up - are listed.


For many years, I have had a vision that there would be support available wherever there were teens whose lives were touched by loss and tragedy. Now, as I attend workshops at national conferences, talk with others serving this unique population, and look through books and videos, I am hopeful.

Grass-roots efforts to guide grieving children and teens are emerging from many concerned people. Parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, coaches, and spiritual guides are seeking appropriate and practical ways of accompanying grieving children and teens as they journey through the isolation, the turmoil, and ever-changing life experiences after a loved one dies. Educators, practitioners, and researchers are collaborating, sharing from their respective disciplines. It has become apparent that these young people can actually grow through the experience of grief, especially when they receive support and guidance from caring adults.


This vision for me began almost 20 years ago when many of the families in our local hospice included a teen. When someone from the hospice team visited the homes, the teens would often be hovering in the shadows, seemingly wondering why these strangers were invading the privacy of their home at a most precarious time. When the parent died we considered whether these teens might be willing to join with other teens to wrestle with their grief in a group setting.

Since materials for helping grieving teens were scarce, the facilitators relied on the stories of the teens themselves to determine what themes were most important to their healing journey. Each group was different; each teen’s grief was unique. We devised a variety of ways of approaching the topics, and learned what worked and what didn’t. Both teens and facilitators grew in wisdom. I had gathered that wisdom into the first edition of Helping Teens Work Through Grief.


The first edition included multidimensional activities, reflecting the many issues that touch the lives of grieving teens. It has been a practical resource manual, providing nutsand-bolts information for caring adults as they take the steps toward establishing a grief group. Facilitators have been encouraged to listen to the teens and to trust their own inner sense in determining how to approach each unique group of teens. I have been told . . .

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