Teenagers Speak

By listening to our bereaved teenagers, we can get a better understanding of how best to support them in their grief. Reflecting their question back to them for their opinion can guide you as a parent on their concerns, beliefs or issues.

The funeral

“I don’t think I could have handled going to the funeral because my mum was in so much pain. Saying goodbye to my sister – I did it by myself when I felt I needed to. It was more of a private thing.” (Melissa)

“I’m glad I went. It was great to see so many people showing me support. I did a reading and we all contributed and it was a final thing I could do for my brother before he was buried.” (Tom)

“One of the most important things we did was we all gave Glenn a kiss goodbye in the ambulance. That was a really good thing to do” (Carl)

“I was four when Joel died. Many people were against me going to the funeral because I was so young. I was naughty at the funeral … but Mum told me to go and I was glad I did.” (Natalie)

What helped

“Me and my older brother David carried his coffin out of the church and this made me proud in a way, through the sadness. It was a good thing, a final goodbye.” (Tom)

“We all wrote letters to Andrew and he was buried with them and that was great.” (Tom)

“Writing down your feelings helps a lot … I wrote an essay on the death of my sister. I felt such relief that some of the pain had been let out.” (Melissa)

“I remember writing a letter and putting it on top of his coffin and it was buried with him. That was pretty special.” (Tom)

Family and friends

“My parents were so torn up that they found it hard to speak to us kids. It was hard to get a good grip on what had happened.” (Carl)

“When Andrew died, all I wanted to do was be over it. ‘I said, I am not going to wait a year to get over this.’ A week later, I was back at school. It was like returning to normality. I think I paid for it a year later when it came close to his anniversary. I hadn’t allowed myself to go through the grieving process. All I wanted to do was to forget about it. My friends were great and wanted to talk about it, but I shut them out.” (Claire)

“None of my friends would go near me. They didn’t know what to say. No one was really talking to me … it felt a bit lonely at the time.” (Tom)

“Everything was chaos at home and I just wanted to get back to something normal and stable – and so I went back to school on Monday. I said to my friends, ‘My sister died’ but I didn’t want to talk about it. There was too much instability in my house.” (Melissa)

What helped

“All I wanted was to speak to someone, not my parents, not counsellors, but to someone else, preferably my own age, who knew what I was going through. I didn’t want to think I was the only one.” (Claire)

“I felt a lot of pressure to act in a certain way. All I wanted was to be by myself and sort it out my own way … I didn’t want to feel pressure to act a certain way or go to certain places or be the stereotype of someone grieving. I didn’t want a time put on my grief.” (Melissa)

“Don’t take anyone else’s advice, because they have no idea what you are going through.” (Claire)

“I was allowed to feel the way I wanted to feel and if I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t have to, and if I did, there was always someone there for me. That helped me a lot.” (Melissa)

This article was prepared using extracts from What about the Other Kids?1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 23/5/22