Where do teens go with grief?

My young niece lost her boyfriend. How can I help her?

Published May 6, 2013 12:00AM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Hi, Cary

My 15-year-old niece lost her boyfriend a few months ago to cancer. While she's doing pretty well, she feels very lonely. She has friends and a lot of hobbies and activities. I was wondering if you know of a good site for teens that would help her through this difficult time. I'm also in the process of trying to find a therapist for her because I feel a few visits would be a help.

Caring Aunt

Dear Caring Aunt,

Thank you for your letter. Though your niece has friends, she feels lonely. She may not know how to communicate with them about what she is feeling. She may feel they don't understand what she is going through. To some extent, "lonely" may be a catchall word for her, indicating sadness, lack of energy, consciousness of loss, anger, etc. At 15, one's emotional vocabulary is limited. At the same time, she is of course lonely.

She is lonely. She had someone she was with a lot. She had enough human contact. Her boyfriend gave her that.  Now he's gone, so of course she feels lonely.

As you probably know, she will have to live with this loss for a while. It will take time for this loss to take its place in her world.

It's heartening to hear you are looking for a therapist. It is helpful to have some place to go and talk. And it's good to know that while this teen is suffering through a frightening new experience at such a young age, there is someone outside of her immediate family who is looking out for her. That can be tremendously important. So please continue to be there for her and remind her, when she complains that she still is not over it, that grieving takes a long time.

Lastly, this site may help. It has information both for teens going through grief and also for adults who would like to understand what's happening and help them.

Best of luck. I'm glad you're there for her.


By Cary Tennis

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