If your teen is filled with grief in response to a family death, read Patrick's story. Our expert authors and psychologists, Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley, will share 10 ways for your teenager to cope from their book, Teen Grief Relief. Let's find out what they have to say.
Patrick's Story of Grief:
"I was getting my books out of my locker when a guy I used to be friends with but hardly ever see anymore put his hand on my shoulder and said he'd heard my dad died and asked how I was doing. It really freaked me out. My chest tightened, and I felt like I was being crushed.
My body tensed, and I felt my eyes go wide. I wanted to run, jam my fist into my locker or get the hell out of their.
Then I thought I was going to cry. I kept thinking: Get hold of yourself. I want to just drop on the floor. I just couldn't get a grip.
I finally said, 'I can't talk about it now.' He understood and walked off. I just needed to be alone. I missed my next class. It took me a whole hour to get a hold of myself." - Patrick, 16
The Authors Discuss Patrick's Reaction to His Father's Death:
Patrick's mind goes into overdrive, his body takes a hormonal hit, his pupils dilate and his blood vessels constrict. His heart pumps faster. His oxygen levels increase.
Patrick - like his primitive ancestor - is ready to run or lash out. But he's standing in a hallway at school, so neither is a good option. Instead he fights back the tears welling up in his eyes and swallows the lump in his throat and tries to act like everything's cool while his body and mind are going wild.
How to Deal with Overdrive:
Since the fight-or-flight response (what we're calling overdrive here) always comes by surprise, it's helpful if you have a few options ready ahead of time. Read the list below and make notes on the ones you plan to try.
1. Recognize what's going on: "My mind has triggered a hormonal hit. My body is responding in a normal way. I can hold on. I am safe, and this will pass."
2. Breathe deeply. Oxygen helps to disperse the hormones.
3. Yawn. This will relax your throat when you have a lump that won't go away.
4. Get a drink of water.
5. Go to the bathroom, wash your hands and put a cold towel on the back of your neck.
6. Look out a window.
7. Go to your guidance counselor's office at your school. You can talk to the counselor or just sit; take a break from questions you teachers and fellow students may have. Eat a snack. Hormonal responses decrease your blood sugar.
8. Move your body. Dance, run, swim, play tennis, walk - whatever. Getting some exercise will help your body relax and your mind clear.
9. Listen to music alone in your room.
Let's give a BIG HAND to Drs. Heidi and Gloria Horsley for their story about Patrick and 10 Ways to help teens cope with death. We are fortunate to have such experts discuss this topic with us.
Their book, Teen Grief Relief ~ Parenting with Understanding, Support and Guidance ,is available on Amazon.com
What are your opinions about this blog post or your suggestions for helping teens deal with death and grief? Please answer in the comment link below. We want to hear from you.
Jean Tracy, MSS
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