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What is Grief?

What is grief? Maybe you think we all grieve the same way - all experience the same emotions in a given timeline. What if someone is grieving longer or shorter than we think is ‘normal’? Well, research now shows and supports that grief is different for everyone. What does this mean for you, for your family, for your friends? Lots of questions - but there are also answers. With the holidays coming up, it will be important to have some introspection and be able to identify what you are needing and what your family is needing in terms of grief. Have a conversation with your teens and help them gain some insight into their own emotions. Kevin Gruzewski, a certified therapist and author on this subject, suggests discussing how an incident like a loved one’s passing can change a person’s mindset and worldview. As well as discussing how emotions related to grief can make a person feel unfocused, unmotivated and depressed.

Be sure to ask yourself and your teen what self-care activities people can intentionally do to care for their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Can you and your family think of some way to honor your loved one during this holiday season? For example, you can share your favorite stories about that person, serve their favorite side dish, or plant a tree. These are just a few ideas. There are many possibilities out there that you can do to remember your loved one. As we share stories about those we have lost, let your teen know that it’s okay to still laugh and have fun even while grieving-it can help with the healing process.

Kevin Gruzewski, CTRS shares in his book, Therapy Games for Teens, an activity titled You’re Not Alone and offers 7 suggestions you can utilize with your teenager. By the way, this is good for parents too!

1.    Discuss the importance of getting support while working through the grieving process.
2.    Have your teen give a few examples of people who make up their support network. Ask why they chose these people.
3.    On a piece of paper, have them list at least five people they can ask for help.
4.    Next to each person, have them write what makes these people supportive. For example, “My sister always takes the time to listen when I’m feeling down”.
5.    Then ask them to write down specific days and times each person is typically available.
6.    Allow your teen to discuss the schedule.
7.    Let them know they can use their list as a resource when they are having a difficult time managing grief.

Remember that there are places in your community to help you and your family if you are traveling on this challenging road of grieving. One of these places is Grief’s Journey; it’s a great resource for families that we have right here in Omaha. They offer support groups for the entire family, trainings and education programs, grief counseling, as well as serious illness and injury support groups. These are just a few of the things they offer, to check out their website go to:

Remember, there is no wrong or right way to grieve.

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