Understanding and Supporting Grieving Adolescents and Young Adults
Michelle Palmer, Micah Saviet, and Jeremy Tourish
The adolescent and young adult years are a time of growth, change, and challenge.
Experiencing the loss of a family member or friend during this period of life
can have a profound effect on a young personís social functioning, physical and
mental health, and development. Research demonstrates that the grief reactions
of adolescents and young adults differ from those of adults, and that loss is an
individual experience that varies widely throughout each developmental stage.
Further, youth who struggle to cope with a significant loss without support and
guidance are more likely to experience a greater intensity of grief and distress.
When providing support to a grieving adolescent or young adult, it is important to
understand normal development, appreciate common grief responses, and identify
deviations. It is also important to know about available interventions and supportive
strategies, specifically for this age group. With this knowledge, pediatric
nurses and other helping professionals can tailor guidance, support, and referrals
to suit the specific needs of individual bereaved youth.