Grieving Teens: When to Get Professional Help

Grieving Teens: When to Get Professional Help

There are many reactions grieving teens experience that are considered within the normal realm of grief responses, as we spoke about in this article.  Now we turn our attention to symptoms to be aware of and what to look for when deciding if your teen needs outside help for grief.  We’ll also share the important red flags that require immediate intervention.  These are issues for which you shouldn’t wait to get help.

Here are symptoms to monitor:

Sleep Difficulties


Low self-esteem

Chronic Depression

Academic failure/Indifference to school

Withdrawing from relationships with family and friends

Grief can look a lot like the items on the list above. Teens may experience any of the above symptoms even when not grieving, which can make things a little tricky.  Generally, if the issues are caused by grief, you will see them begin to resolve over time.  Early grief is trying for everyone.

If you notice your teen having any of the above issues and the symptoms don’t resolve within a few months (six months is generally the time-frame experts recommend for these issues to resolve after the loss), it is advised to seek professional help. 

When to Act Immediately/Red Flag Behaviors

If a teen is engaging in the following risk-taking behaviors, those issues should be addressed as soon as they become apparent:

Drug Use

Alcohol Use

Sexual Activity

Physical Violence

Reckless Driving

These behaviors are not just a “phase” and they can lead to life-changing complications if left unchecked.

Where to Get Help

There are a few places you can look for help, or use as a starting point for a referral, if needed:

School counselor


Hospice Program

Clinical Social Workers


To help a teen who is having a particularly hard time with his or her loss, explore the full spectrum of helping services in your community. School counselors, church groups and private therapists are appropriate resources for some young people, while others may just need a little more time and attention from caring adults like you. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and seek the input of a professional.  The important thing is that you help the grieving teen find safe and nurturing emotional outlets at this difficult time.

For more help with grieving teens, 
find our exclusive resource HERE!


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