Teenage Grief Counselling – Working Through the Holidays

When the holidays roll around, it’s a time of togetherness, family time and memory-making. The festive season is often a time for joy, but for families with teenagers navigating the death of a friend or family member, this season can be filled with tough emotions. As a counsellor who offers teenage grief counselling, I understand deeply the profound impact such a monumental loss can have on your usually bubbly teen. 

Grief impacts us all differently, and for teenagers, it can be very difficult to manage the feelings associated with the holidays when moving through grief. They can struggle to reach out and connect with others and may isolate themselves during the holidays. In this guide, I’ll be sharing how grief impacts teens during the holidays and actionable strategies you can use at home to help make this time easier for your family.  

Implementing Teenage Grief Counselling During the Holidays: 

Grieving teenagers experience turbulent emotions and might struggle to cope. Parents need to be proactive in supporting them with these feelings during this time. Here’s some tips: 

Validate their feelings. 

Sometimes, teenagers feel incredibly alone in their experience of grief. It may be difficult for you to relate to how they’re feeling, and you may be struggling with them withdrawing from the family. Validating their feelings and letting them know it’s okay to feel how they feel, and that they’re free to express their emotions safely at home, can help them navigate this period.  

Encourage Open Communication: 

You don’t need to remind them daily that you’re waiting for them, but let them know that you’re ready whenever they’d like to talk. You don’t want to pressure them, as they may withdraw even more, but letting them know that there’s a safe place for them to come to if they need can help them process their feelings.  

Don’t Force Old Traditions: 

Many parents may feel anxious about the holidays after a death and may attempt to use old traditions as a way to promote inclusivity and joy within the family. This can have the opposite effect if the tradition is associated with a lost loved one, and forcing your teen to participate may make them feel angry or guilty. 

Instead, try creating fun new traditions this holiday season. Maybe you can honour the memory of their loved one by lighting a candle or making their favourite food. Family gatherings or watching a movie together could be a fun way to promote the holiday spirit without overstepping boundaries.  

If your teen isn’t up to participating, that’s okay! Let them know they’re always welcome, and that it’s 100% okay if they’d prefer to spend some time alone instead.  

Promote Self Care: 

Teens can often forget self-care when they’re moving through grief, which has bad ramifications for their mental health, confidence and self-worth. Encourage your teen to do their favourite hobbies, even if this means you do them too. Alone time is also important, and you should encourage your child to do activities that promote relaxation like reading or going for a walk. 

When To Seek Professional Help: 

If you’re noticing your teenager is becoming increasingly withdrawn, or you’re worried that their grief may be severely impacting their daily life, then it’s time to seek help. A teenage grief counsellor will provide a safe, supportive environment for them to tackle their feelings and work through their grief, and your counsellor will also provide you with strategies to use at home.  

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, but a brave step towards healing. Your teen may feel hesitant at first, but reassure them that counselling is a confidential space where they can freely talk about their feelings without judgment. At MindfulMe, we provide tailored counselling services and other resources to help children and teens alike navigate big life changes, including grief.