Insights Into Teens: Episode 38 “Grief and Loss”

This week we talk about how to cope with grief and loss. Whether it’s the death of a friend or family member, a beloved pet or the loss of a relationship everyone experiences various stages of grief. We discuss these stages of grief, how they manifest themselves and how teens specifically are affected by grief and loss. We’ll also discuss ways to help those going through such a painful process to handle what can be an overwhelming amount of emotions.

Insights Into Teens


Speaker 1: 00:01 Insightful podcast. Informative insights podcast network.

Speaker 3: 00:26 Welcome to insights into teens, a podcast series, exploring the issues and challenges of today’s youth. Your hosts are Joseph and Madison wireless, a father and daughter team making their way through the challenges of the teenage years.

Speaker 2: 00:51

Speaker 4: 00:51 Welcome to insights into teens. This is episode 38 grief and loss. I’m your host, Joseph Waylen and my insightful and inspiring cohost, Madison Waylon. Hello, how you doing today, Maddie? Pretty good. Sort of, sort of what’s wrong today?

Speaker 5: 01:12 But I’m teeth hurt. Why do they hurt? Yesterday I had noted orthodontist appointment and my bottom teeth. They’re pretty sensitive.

Speaker 4: 01:20 Your your monthly torture session at the orthodontist. Yeah. Yeah. That’s tough. So this week we are talking grief and loss. And just a little background on this one. This actually was a concept that we had come out with a few months back right after I pets podcast. Yeah. You had a, a friend of yours his goldfish, their goldfish passed away. Like

Speaker 5: 01:51 They had bought four fish and then four, and within four hours of taking care of them, they all died.

Speaker 4: 01:57 Right. So, and you know, that is a form of grief and loss. And a, we’ll talk about what grief is. We’ll talk about the stages of grief, dealing with it and all the wonderful things that we generally discuss on the podcast. And it applies to more than just gold fish though, right? Yeah. So ready to get into it. All right, let’s do it.

Speaker 4: 02:30 So what is grief? According to the Mayo clinic, grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a term, from a terminal diagnosis, they or someone they love have received they might find themselves feeling numb and removed from daily life, unable to carry on with regular duties, saddled with their sense of loss. Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, lost through theft or loss through independence, through disability X for experts. Advise those grieving to realize they can’t control the process and to prepare for varying stages of grief, understanding why they’re suffering can help as can talking to others and trying to resolve issues that call significant emotional pain. So just feeling guilty for a loved one’s death, mourning can last for months or years. Generally pain is tempered as time passes and as the bereaved adapts to life without the loved one to the news of the terminal diagnosis or to the realization that someone they love may die. So that’s that’s a pretty big definition there. What do you think of of everything there?

Speaker 5: 04:17 I definitely think it can some of grief in a very dignified and sophisticated way and it definitely sums it up as best as it can cause grief isn’t just like one sentence grief. It’s like basically a whole thing that you have to think about. Like, not only do you have grief of like a loved one who had died, but you can also have other types of grief like griefs of if if one of your pets has died or if you lose a loved one. Like if they get laws, like if your child get low, gets lost on space mountain.

Speaker 4: 04:54 There is that. Yeah. We still have painful memories of that. Yep. So tell me, have you experienced loss?

Speaker 5: 05:03 Yes, I have, sadly.

Speaker 4: 05:05 Can you give us an example?

Speaker 5: 05:07 I can definitely say the biggest loss that I can remember is the loss of our cat. Fluffer that happened a few years ago.

Speaker 4: 05:17 Yeah. And that you, you were pretty shaken by that. How old were you in that app?

Speaker 5: 05:23 I think I was in, I think it was starting second grade. I think it was during the summer when I was in first. I can actually remember the morning quite well again. I can actually remember the day it happened quite well and it’s just sad for me to think about it.

Speaker 4: 05:42 Yeah. And, and it wasn’t a sudden law. She was, you know, she was up there in years and she was getting, you know, in firmed and she was rather frail. And the day that it happened, we had had the vet over because she had, I don’t know if she had had a stroke or something along those lines, but she was visibly shaken and she was, had labored breathing and we kinda knew the, the end was near and we didn’t want her to suffer anymore. And we had the vet come over in the vet, gave her an injection and that calmed her down. And you know, she passed quietly and in mommy’s arms. And you know, we lost her. You’d had her since you were, you know, before you were born, right? Yeah. So I can see now it’s, it still makes you sad at the loss and it’s tough with pants because, you know, unless you own an elephant, your pets probably gonna die before you do, you know, the average life span for, for cats and dogs is somewhere in the 15 to 16 year range, human year range.

Speaker 4: 06:51 So chances are if you’re a fan of Pat says mommy is, you’re going to lose a few pets during your lifetime. You know, I had a, I had a dog when I was your age and when my dog died, it had an impact on me cause I grew up with my dog and you know, I didn’t get another pet for 20 years cause I didn’t want to go through that again. And then, you know, I was having to be, I was at with mommy at the time, I was with someone else and we got a dog and the dog wasn’t a fit for the family. We wound up returning him to the store that we got him from. And then I didn’t get another pet until we wound up getting Darthy one of our Karen cats and going out in the event that she winds up passing away someday. I’m sure it’s gonna have that same kind of effect on me. Besides pets, have you experienced any other kinds of losses?

Speaker 6: 07:52 Well, I know I know of my the last grant, the last blood-related grandparents I had passed away when I was around seven. Yeah. I never knew any of my grandfather’s, which is a pretty sad thing to think about cause they all, they both died before I was born. I did that. Both my grandmothers though, unfortunately my grandmother and your side of the family died when I was like a baby, but at least he was able to see me. That is true. And granted he lasted a few years with me and passed away when I was about seven.

Speaker 4: 08:38 Yeah, it’s tough. Any kind of loss is tough. So one of the things that people tend to adhere to when it comes to grief and loss is the stages of grief. And depending on who you use a source, there’s different number of stages. The source that we’re going to use today, there are seven stages, so let’s move on to that.

Speaker 6: 09:03 Okay. And we’ll go over the stages and all S and I’ll use my represent I used as of last and see if I S has suffered those stage. So grief, that’s the general idea. Yeah. Thanks for, I just wanted to make sure. Shall we do that now? Yes. Okay.

Speaker 4: 09:28 So list the seven stages of grief and the first stage that they talk about is shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numb to feelings in the event of a death of a loved one. The reaction is typically they’re not gone. They’ll come around the corner at any second. Now, like you don’t, you don’t realize that they’re not going to be there tomorrow. Is that kinda how you felt when you experienced your most recent loss?

Speaker 6: 10:03 I’m with those death. Yes. Like I can remember the morning like I was getting ready to go to, I think my summer camp at the time. I think I was actually going to DSC at the time and mommy had offered to make me breakfast and it started off as a good day. And then we found, we walked in the kitchen and found fluffer on the floor. Mommy was shocked.

Speaker 7: 10:31 Hang on.

Speaker 6: 10:35 And I was like, I had no idea what was going on. Like, I mean, I was only like, like around the, around like seven, like same time.

Speaker 4: 10:49 It’s a tough age, you know, to, to really understand these types of things at that age.

Speaker 6: 10:54 Yeah. Like I was standing there, I heard mommy shocked. And for a few moments I didn’t believe it.

Speaker 4: 11:05 Now she hadn’t passed away at that point in time. She was just, that was when we kind of knew she was very sick.

Speaker 6: 11:12 I just like saw mommy worry and I didn’t really believe it. Like I didn’t, I didn’t believe what I was seeing.

Speaker 4: 11:22 So the next stage of grief that they talk about is pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs. Did you ever feel, you know, if we wanna stick with the example of fluffer or Ramey or someone else, did you ever feel as though you emotional needs were having a negative impact on, on someone else at the time where your grieving was having a, an impact on a situation beyond the obvious immediacy of it?

Speaker 6: 11:59 I mean, the day fluffer died or was put down, I didn’t really think it through because the emotions were just thrown in my head.

Speaker 4: 12:11 Right. And that’s the thing at the time, you really don’t have a lot of time to think about that stuff. It’s sort of overwhelmed. You like a wave.

Speaker 6: 12:19 Yeah. But I remember one day completely breaking down. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 12:27 Well I remember the next day when you went to school you had cried in the morning about it and then,

Speaker 6: 12:35 No, it was actually a couple of days like I wasn’t in school. I know that,

Speaker 4: 12:38 Well not school, but like the next, the next day that you were going to that I guess it was camp at the time and I was dropping you off. You had cried that morning. On the way to camp and you just sort of kept to yourself the neck, that whole day there and you were very quiet for the next couple of days after that where it was just sort of sinking in. So from my perspective, and I, and I think mommy would agree that you weren’t a burden by any sort. Like there wasn’t, there wasn’t an outpouring of a need to console you during the process. Although, you know, we, we certainly, we sat down and we had our good cries about it.

Speaker 6: 13:23 Yeah. But I do remember one day when I was in school when I just completely broke down over it. Yeah. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and they literally like couldn’t do my schoolwork and I was just, couldn’t stop crying. Like kind of like now. Yeah. By the end of the day they did calm down. But we probably have talked her out today, huh. Sorry. That’s okay. I mean, I know I was going to graduate this one.

Speaker 4: 13:54 We should’ve brought tissues. We didn’t bring any tissues, so shut. The next thing that we add on the tug at my heartstrings hit list here was anger and bargaining. You may last shout tell God or higher power that you’ll do anything they ask. If the only grant you relief from these feelings on the example they give and the death of a loved one is if you know, if she cared more for herself, this wouldn’t have happened, et cetera, et cetera. So did you ever reach that point? Cause I know we’re not particularly religious, right? So w there’s not a lot of times that, that we tend to turn to prayer for things like that. Did you feel yourself trying to bargain for, for a few more moments or did you feel anger at her, her passing or anything?

Speaker 6: 15:00 I don’t think I ever really thought anger, but I definitely, like I remember just saying I just wanted her to be back alive. I remember always thinking that and sometimes even saying it when I would walk to her grave.

Speaker 4: 15:17 Yeah. Well, and you know, in hindsight when we, when she did pass where you had little service non-denominational service, since we’re not that religious we had little service, we buried her in the yard and then mommy decided she was going to plan a rosebush over her and that rosebush is now growing uncontrollably and encroaching on the deck now making it very difficult to get up the steps to the deck. So in a way she sorted does live on in that rosebush, doesn’t she? Yeah. And I remember mommy’s saying the reason why we are using the rosebush was because the new clause or something. Yes. And she always called daddy. So the rosebush always scratches me when I walked past it. So it works. Perfect. So the next thing that we have in the seven stages of guilt here is stage four, which is depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you proceed. You process and reflect on the loss. I’m actually going to go on to sort of just syrup this one myself. When when my mom passed away, your grandmother I was very depressed about it and from an isolation standpoint there was a period of about seven years or so where

Speaker 4: 16:53 I didn’t process it and I kind of shut slowly but surely shut everyone down around me. That loved me. And it was because I was not processing the death very well.

Speaker 4: 17:10 I was the person at the time who

Speaker 4: 17:14 Was the decision maker. It was, it was me and my three brothers, my three brothers and I, and my in her will, my mother had wanted me, had declared that I was going to be the executor of the will and to complicate things two of my three brothers I didn’t get along with very well. So having me be the executive probably wasn’t the best idea, you know, from a stability standpoint. So we hadn’t, I decided to have my older brother be the executor of Honeywell of her will. And she, my mom had a living, will, well, didn’t have a linen will, but she had expressed her concerns. Now to a living will is a document that you draw up. It’s not like a a will is who gets my stuff when I die. What happens to my stuff when I die and a living will, is if I’m incapacitated and cannot make decisions for myself for any reason, don’t revive me if I need to be on a machine or a ventilator or something like that.

Speaker 4: 18:26 And basically it’s, it’s what to do if I can’t make those decisions. And my mom never had one of those officially drawn up, but she was in a condition, she was in a vegetative state due to an illness where she was still alive on a ventilator and the machine was keeping her alive. And we had to make a decision because it didn’t look like she was coming out of it. And if she did, she probably would not have been herself because of, of brain damage that she had sustained so that the hospital had asked for a decision from the family. And because I was listed on the will as the executor of the will, you can wipe your nose. I was listed as the executor, so I was the one who legally was responsible for making the call. So we all sat around the table, which ironically enough was the first time I had sat with my brothers at about five years and seen them and they didn’t know what to do.

Speaker 4: 19:31 You know, they didn’t, they didn’t want to make the decision. I told them, I said, well, you know, mom and I sat down and she told me that if she ever was in a situation like this, she didn’t want the machines to keep her alive. She one of us to pull the plug. And if God took her, God took her. My mother was fairly religious. So that was a decision that we made. And ultimately it was, it was a decision that I made nine told the doctor not to revive if we pulled her off the vent and she passed away and she w, you know, we knew she wasn’t going to last. And when they pulled her off the vent, she passed away. And for a very long time, that was a decision that I had lived with. You know, it was my decision that killed my mother and that left me with a lot of the pressure.

Speaker 4: 20:27 And the problem was at the time that all this was happening, I didn’t have a cha a chance to grieve because after that happened we had to make the funeral arrangements and we had to get all that stuff ready and go out and go and do the funeral and, and all that. So I never had a chance to really grieve myself and I held all that in and it sort of built up over time. And you know, it kind of left me with some emotional scars over the course of the next seven years or so until I was finally kind of forced to deal with it. So from a depression standpoint, I did isolate myself from it. And it, you know, I bear the scars of that too because I think a lot of that isolation, that self-imposed isolation is sort of a call. Some of the issues that I have today with Sam. And, and other people that you know, and allow that to, did allow the deterioration of those relationships. So it’s, it’s, it’s definitely something to be cognizant of.

Speaker 6: 21:33 Yeah. And I’m unlike you, I didn’t have control over fluffers death. I mean, I was only seven. I couldn’t really say if I want to know to live well, if I wanted her to die, you two had to decide that for yourselves. Well,

Speaker 4: 21:48 And really it didn’t come down to a life or death of live or not live situation. It was, she was going to pass and she was suffering in the condition that she was in. So the decision was to end the suffering or let her pass naturally suffer and pass naturally. Yeah. It wasn’t like, you know, she had a curable disease that if we paid a lot of money and, and paid a vet to do tests and stuff like that, that we’d cure. Yeah. She wasn’t going to survive and we didn’t want to see her suffer anymore. So it was kind of what drove that decision.

Speaker 6: 22:26 Yeah. And even though I didn’t have control over over that decision, I definitely think I felt that same way as you did. I like, as you said earlier, I basically just, I basically kept to myself or in this case isolated myself. No, it wasn’t until one day that I just couldn’t handle it anymore. But I’ve definitely think after that I, I definitely feel calmer on the matter and I’ve,

Speaker 4: 23:06 Well, and that brings us to the next step. So the next stage that they have here is the upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief, like anger and pain have died down and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state, which leads to reconstruction. Working through you can begin to put the pieces of your life back together and carry forward, which ultimately leads to the final stage, which is acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the, so you go through all these very powerful emotions early on where you feel like you’re helpless, you don’t have any control over the situation, and then you gradually work through the stages of grief as time wears on and you start to cope with them. And sometimes that coping involves talking to other people. Sometimes it just, it takes time and you finally get to that acceptance point where you have some hope moving forward.

Speaker 6: 24:20 Yeah, I can definitely say after the whole breakdown that day, I had definitely learned to accept plovers death. I mean I basically isolate myself for a good amount of time and it eventually seemed time to move on. Of course, mentioning about her still makes me shed a couple tears. But I’ve definitely gotten better over the years after what I used to be.

Speaker 4: 24:49 Well and, and we’ll talk about that in the next segment about the, the six basic principles of how to grieve because there is really a process associated with it. So the, the first principle really is that grieving is a natural reaction to death or loss. Everyone grieves, you know, whether it’s your pet passing away, your grandmother passing away, losing a job, going through a divorce, grieving is natural, and he kind of lost his natural.

Speaker 4: 25:26 And each experience is unique. And that’s, that’s the one thing, like a lot of times you’ll talk to counselors at school or you may talk to some professional psychiatrists or psychologists and they’ll try to help you with your grief. There isn’t, you know, a cookbook on how to deal with grief. It doesn’t, one technique doesn’t work for everybody. Everyone’s grief is unique. The situation, the personality, the relationship.

Speaker 4: 25:56 So if you grieve differently than someone else, that’s perfectly fine. You know, you grieved the way that you need to in order to cope. So there’s no right or wrong way.

Speaker 8: 26:05 Yep.

Speaker 4: 26:08 And every loss itself is experienced differently. Like a fluffer passing away had a different effect on you than it did on myself or mommy. Even the other, the younger cats, you know, they went through a grieving process too. We don’t, can’t really begin to understand it, but they did act differently around her, just like they kind of act differently around Dorian because they realize that Dorian’s getting older and Dorian’s not playful. And she’s a little cranky. So, you know, if Dorian or when Dorian does pass, you know, the, the cats are going to grieve too. And we kind of had to be there for the cats. And, and I think that shared grief is really what helps us get through things more than anything else. Because grievings influenced by a number of different things. So the social support systems that we have available, for instance, your family, your friends, your community.

Speaker 4: 27:13 Like when my dad passed away, my dad had was diagnosed with cancer my junior year in high school and he passed away when I was a senior. And that was another one where I was very isolated. You know, having a terminal diagnosis. We knew he was gonna pass away. He wasn’t gonna live. So you try to do what you can to spend as much time with the loved one as you can. And when he did pass away to my surprise when we were walking out of the church from the funeral, two of my best friends from high school had called, had taken off that day from school so that they could be there at the funeral. And, and like I kept it together the whole time through the ceremony and everything. And, and you know, cause they did a full mass and everything for my dad.

Speaker 4: 28:06 And when we were walked out and I saw the two of them, that’s when it started to hit me, you know, the reality of the situation. But the circumstances of the loss, you know, was it a, was it a quick loss, you know, did the loved one die suddenly or was it a long drawn out illness that affects the grieving process to, you know, my dad, it was a long drawn out experience. My mom, it was, it was very suddenly I was, she wound up getting sick, you know, was unresponsive, went into the hospital and a week or so later, you know, she had passed away. So it was like one was this buildup to grief and the other one was the sudden on Russia grief. And you handle it very differently. Like with fluffer we kind of knew she was sick and not doing well. So we, we kind of had this buildup to it. But nothing ever really prepares you for it.

Speaker 6: 29:01 Yeah. I mean like even like I didn’t know, I knew Flava was old, but I didn’t know that she died. I didn’t know

Speaker 4: 29:14 Sorry. That’s okay. It’s a difficult topics we heard.

Speaker 6: 29:19 Yeah, I didn’t know. She was like, knows what the you, well, and the thing

Speaker 4: 29:24 Is, you know, let’s face it, you were seven at the time, so your concept of death is very different at seven than it is now at 12 or 13. So there’s very little in your life that’s that permanent. If that ate right, you didn’t have a chance to really even learn or understand what, what death was and you get hit with it. You know, same thing happened to me. I was probably your age, maybe a little bit younger when my grandmother passed away and it was my grandmother on my mom’s side and she was in her early nineties so she was pretty old. And like she was frail, but you know, to a 10 year old, anyone over 50s frail. Right. And now you’re old when you hit, when you hit 50 at that point at least, you know when I was at age, but she never seemed sick, like deathly sick.

Speaker 4: 30:29 And when she passed away, he was a shock to me and I had a very weird reaction to it. So as a kid, we all lived together. My mom, my dad, and my three brothers and Anya and my grandmother lived with us and my mom and dad had one arm. So when you, when you came up the stairs, you came out, the bathroom was, it was at the head of the stairs and then you came around a banister and you had three bedrooms around the Bannister. So my mom and dad had the first bedroom. My brothers and I had the middle one and my grandmother had the, the last one was the smallest one. And I had a very weird reaction where I was afraid to go into the room and I don’t, to this day I don’t know why. And I’m thinking, I understood why then, but like I knew she died in that room.

Speaker 9: 31:21 And

Speaker 4: 31:22 Just the idea of death being in that room I think was something that scared me because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know why she died. I didn’t know what caused her to die. And I don’t know, maybe party was freed that it was something in that room that caused her to die. But like I was terrified going into my room and I’d run into my room real quick so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time going past her door. And it wasn’t until years later that I, I even realized I was conscious of it cause at the time I don’t even think I realized it. But it, it again, it’s how you grieve. It’s how you deal with that. So the level of involvement in the process also determines how you grieve. You know, the one recurring thing that you seem to say is you, you didn’t have a say in what happened with fluffer and a lot of times you don’t and, and

Speaker 4: 32:23 I think sometimes it’s for the better. You know, I had a lot of saying and how my mom died and, and that had long lasting effects on me. So you know, you feel powerless on one and you feel guilt ridden on the other. So I’m sure there’s a happy medium in between somewhere there. And the emotional and developmental age of the person plays a factor too. You’ll deal with grief one way at age seven because you’re not emotionally developed enough to understand the concepts then you would have, could dealt with it now. Now you’re more mature, you have a better understanding of it. Sadly, you’ve gone through it now. So there is that level of experience. But as a seven year old, you’re just not equipped to deal with it.

Speaker 5: 33:20 I can definitely say that. I think gauged seven was the time I actually experienced death the most. I mean Grammy died that that year, fluff or die. And I think even my grand uncle Mickey died that year

Speaker 4: 33:36 Around that time frame. I don’t know if or how close it was.

Speaker 5: 33:39 Yeah. I can say around those that age, that was like the main part of like, that’s when I really fully learned about death. And of course as a seven year old, I didn’t really understand it.

Speaker 4: 33:52 Yeah. That’s a tough time to, to be handed that, you know, I mean there’s like w we didn’t expect a lot from you though, but just having that circumstance thrust upon you can have a lasting effect and clearly, you know, it has so, and the last point here is that grief is ongoing. It’s not, it’s not a cold, but you don’t get over it. You know, that loss is always there. So you’re always finding different ways to deal with it. And you, that’s again, that’s the important thing is that you do have to deal with it. The one thing that I learned after my mother passed away was I didn’t deal with it. You know, I pushed it aside. Then I talked to the lady in the corner and I had locked it away in this little emotional box here and I ignored it. And it’s one of those things where it just, it doesn’t stay, you know, it continues to build and it continues to grow and and eventually it bursts out of that box and it becomes overwhelming. Whereas a could deal with it as it happens and you continue to deal with it. It doesn’t make it easier, but it makes it manageable. You know? So, so we’ll come back and we’ll talk about how to help a grieving teenager.

Speaker 4: 35:27 So one of the recurring themes in the research that I did is that grieving teenagers still want to be normal. What they consider normal adolescence, a time when most teens just want to fit in. So what a tragedy sets a teen apart. It’s all the harder, and I can speak from experience with that because when my father passed away, may seeing your year, like you don’t, that’s not information that you can withhold, right? So everyone at school knew it and everyone at school immediately treats you differently and it’s not always for the best. Like it certainly doesn’t help the grieving process. Everybody wants to express their condolences, but you kinda just want to be left alone. You want to sorta, I least I did. I wanted to deal with it on my own. So every time someone will come up to me and express their condolences, it was like they were ripping a scab off of a wound that just started the heal, you know? And it doesn’t let you feel normal. Now. How did you feel, I mean, you had some difficulty dealing with the emotions when you were at camp and in school. How did that make you feel in the eyes of the other kids?

Speaker 5: 36:50 I mean, I can definitely say if I ever mentioned that they would definitely try to help me, but let’s just say the repeating thing that happened the day I had the breakdown, like the fact that people just kept mentioning it, I just

Speaker 4: 37:11 Don’t think he really helped. Yeah. And it usually doesn’t and but the thing is that the people will see that you’re upset and they’ll want to talk about it and it’s human instinct that get you to talk about something like that.

Speaker 5: 37:25 I mean, I understand their concern, but it’s just like at that point in your life, you just, at that point you just want to be left alone. And the fact that people are mentioning it up, laying up again just causes the pain to get stronger and you probably will. It’ll probably leave and even longer lasting Mark.

Speaker 4: 37:42 Yeah. Yeah. You’re right. Friends are important to a grieving teenager. Yeah. Adolescence is also a time when peers play a starring role much more so than in early childhood. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to teenage grief and loss, teens may learn lean more on peers than on grownups. And I think the important thing here is that your friends know you, right? So your friends are generally going to be the ones that see that you’re upset and there are, there are going to be the ones that console you, not by expressing their sympathy for you, but by sort of grounding you and bringing you back down to the things in life that they know you enjoy. G you know, if you want someone to talk to, you can talk to them, but they’re not going to be type of people that are, that are trying to pressure you to talk to them.

Speaker 5: 38:39 Yeah. It’s like, like if you like talk to a complete, like a kid from school, you don’t really know too much. They’re just gonna like keep asking questions about it where your friend will decide to just listen to your problems and just try to do their best to better understand it. Like, you know how some people say, I understand well sometimes you really don’t, like if you’ve never had a pet and never experienced loss of a pet, you really don’t understand what it’s like. And I definitely think that’s, that makes you even more sad when people say that your friends don’t really do that. They’re just like, they help with like they make you, they take your mind off the subject. So I definitely think it’s about

Speaker 4: 39:30 Right. They’ll distract you. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll occupier your thoughts elsewhere so you’re not dwelling.

Speaker 5: 39:37 Yeah, I can definitely say whenever I talk to my friends and they were ever feeling sad, I don’t pressure them to tell me about it. Like if they want, I always assure them if they want to tell me about it they can and if they do, I make sure I don’t pressure them to answer some questions. I just listened to them. I nod my head and I make sure I’m listing to a clear definition of what their problems are.

Speaker 4: 39:58 And that leads us into the next suggestion here is let a grieving teenager take the lead. It’s not helpful to try and direct what a grieving teenager should do, say or feel rather follow their lead, listen to them, let them talk, let them get it out. You know, if you are trying to talk about something other than that loss, then you know, let’s go with that. Let’s talk about what’s in the news or, or what we did in class today or you know, whatever it is that, that person who’s grieving once a talk about, let him take the lead on that and then follow with them. But listen, I think listening is the most important thing.

Speaker 5: 40:39 Yeah. Like there’s always that one thing where whenever a teenager has a problem, someone will ask them what’s wrong. And then one of the most common responses, if they didn’t want to say it that they’d be, I don’t want to talk about it. Some, some people would just keep nagging at them to tell them. But like your friends and the people who care about your most will give you time and space if you need it. Like if they would ask if you wanted to talk about like some other kind of topic or they would just take your mind off the subject anyway and it would make you feel better. And I definitely think that’s the best part of having friends and family and just peers who can accept you. Yeah.

Speaker 4: 41:21 And the next suggestion they had was kind of a cautionary one. They see, be careful with your language. A, it’s hard to know what to say to a grieving teenager and what not to say, you know, don’t say will get better or you should be over this by now, or something like that. Cause that’s not going to help.

Speaker 5: 41:39 Yeah. Like definitely the, you should be over this by now. That ain’t going to help. That’s just going to make it even worse. And like, as I said before, the, I understand you, that’s like,

Speaker 4: 41:52 It’s almost patronizing you.

Speaker 5: 41:54 Yeah. It’s like,

Speaker 4: 41:55 Like w okay, you don’t, I, I know you might want to understand what I’m going through right now, but you don’t, and it’s because of what we said earlier is that it’s a unique experience. You may have experienced loss, but everyone experiences loss differently. So instead of understanding, why don’t you listen to me and listen to, let me explain to you how I feel and just just let me unload. Right.

Speaker 5: 42:19 Yeah, it’s like, like whenever I monologue, like when people ask me things and I just feel like I need to unload a bunch of stuff on them.

Speaker 4: 42:29 Yup. And it’s the same thing when you’re grieving. Right. And I know when I was going through it and someone would say, I understand and you know, my first reaction is you, what do you understand? Do you understand the loss? Do you understand the grief? Do you understand the guilt part of all of this really complicated experience? Do you understand?

Speaker 5: 42:48 Yeah. And that’s the thing, grief and loss is like a complicated experience. So you can have different types of laws. You can be grieving at different times. You can have different types of grief and you can have different types of groups at different times. And like everyone takes it differently. There’s only, there’s rarely any one person who will actually understand everything you’re going through unless they’re like basically the same person as you went through the same loss at the same time as you did and had the same stages. But even then, like if you were related to each other and you were the same age, they still wouldn’t really understand you because you go through different stages of grief. Like some people can start with the anger before the, the sadness before they take the anchor step, like, or maybe they don’t even have those steps and they just have the depression stuff. Like they can skip steps, they can put the steps out of order. They can even have completely different steps that we haven’t even discussed.

Speaker 4: 43:44 Right. Well and like you, I even go back to when my mom passed away and it’s like, all right, well she had four boys. Each of those four boys grieved differently because the relationship they had with her was different.

Speaker 5: 43:56 Yeah. Like even the relationship with the person who had died or the relationship with the type of lawsuit or problem you’ve been experiencing, everyone takes it differently depending on your relationship like you and like I had a really close relationship with fluffers. She was with us before I was even born. And to have her die when I was only seven just hurt me so bad. I mean, you and mommy basically expected this. And even though like you mommy felt like complete sadness and probably still does now, she didn’t take it as long as I did.

Speaker 4: 44:35 Well, and again it was because this wasn’t the first pet of hers that had passed away. So she’s had the experience.

Speaker 5: 44:41 Yeah. And that was like the first time I ever experienced death. I think she died before I before Grammy or maybe they died around the same age. I don’t really know.

Speaker 4: 44:49 Yeah. And it was just, you weren’t equipped for it. Yeah. So the next suggestion that they have for helping a grieving team is to give them something to do. This can include helping to memorialize the family member or friend. For example, you could make tee shirts and memory of a deceased relative or you know, that something that do could be something completely unrelated to the death of that person. You know, someone dies and you’re sad. Well, let’s go out to the mall and let’s go shopping. Let’s go buy new clothes. Or let’s go to the movies or let’s go out to Dave and Buster’s or whatever your, your nearby entertainment places and let’s, let’s go blow off some steam. Let’s have a little bit of fun. Let’s take our mind off of it because it’s draining. It’s, it’s emotionally and physically draining to endure that grief. So anything that can take you away from that for even a little while is a chance to reenergize and give you the strength you need to continue to deal with it.

Speaker 5: 45:58 Okay. So I think the things with fluffer, we definitely had the little ceremonial grave. We actually, like, we actually had a box and we put duct tape on it and we wrote things on it, put her body in and making sure to tape it. And then we had a little burial ceremony. And can I also say, I think there was another stage of grief. I actually found a felt, and I think there was, was about, I don’t know, a year after words, I started using my, I started using make-believe, like pretending she was so alive. Like, I remember sometimes coming home from, from school with mommy and imagining fluffers fluffers like body roaming around. I use my imagination for it. And like that’s a whole nother stage of grief. Like you used to make believe to hopefully have the burden and you’d still,

Speaker 4: 46:58 And that’s all children coop. And I did something similar actually when my grandmother passed away cause my grandmother was my care, my care giver for a while cause my mom would go out and clean houses and work and my grandmother would babysit and what was interesting and my grandmother was Lithuanian and didn’t speak English. And I didn’t speak Lithuanian, so it made communications very interesting. But her, I got along great. We were very close and when she had passed away, I don’t know if my parents bought me this little stuffed animal was a little bunny or I had it or what. But in my brain, that little stuffed animal took on my grandmother’s personality and I would sleep with it at night. I would talk to it. And that was largely how I would get through it with my own imagination. And, and that’s something that’s very typical of children who were under the age of 10.

Speaker 5: 48:05 Yeah. I think I actually went through that kind of stage too. Like I have this one, a gray little stuffed animal cat. I actually still have it in my room now. Mommy gave it to me shortly after fluffers passing and Oh,

Speaker 4: 48:22 You have a, a guest with us today. Our our, our elder cat Dorian is wandering around in the studio with us today.

Speaker 5: 48:33 Yeah. as I was saying, mommy had given it to me shortly after fluffers passing, saying that I could use it as a representative of fluffer and I kept it on my bed every night. I would, I really think I actually slept with it a few times, like in my arms and I would just keep it with me and occasionally I would talk to it. I would imagine it was actually the real fluffer.

Speaker 4: 48:57 Of course,

Speaker 5: 48:58 It never really was, but I had my imagination when I was like,

Speaker 4: 49:03 And it’s one of those things that it’s, it’s comic technique to help you process those emotions and have them in embodied in a physical thing. Yeah. So, and, and it works up to a certain age and, and beyond that, there are other techniques that you, you know, you learn. So the last thing that we wanted to talk about here as a suggestion for helping teens cope. You want to let her out now? She’s, she’s very confused. That’s fine. You can still hear me though. So the last thing that we had to talk about here was be honest. So this is a particularly important in the event of an anticipated death, such as a terminal illness sometimes out of a desire to protect our children. We’re not completely honest about that situation. And I’m guilty of that myself. All right. It’s for you.

Speaker 4: 50:03 You just leave the door open and you can just sit down now. Chill. She’ll figure it out. Just sit down. The cat’s blind, by the way, for the audience. So she has difficulty finding her way sometimes, but she’s persistent so she always does get where she wants to go. Yeah. So be honest. And that was one of things that I appreciate it with my parents when my dad was sick, they were very honest with me. I still remember the day that then I found out that he had cancer and I walked in the house and they told me and, and like in my initial reaction was just shocked. Like, like how do I react to this, you know,

Speaker 5: 50:52 For any major illness. That’s basically the main thing. Like if you find out you or a loved one has a major illness, for instance, cancer, like that’s the main thing now. Like the initial reaction is just shock and disbelief.

Speaker 4: 51:06 Yeah. But honesty, you know, be honest with the situation. Be honest with what the next steps are.

Speaker 5: 51:15 Yeah. It’s like similar with like using the right language for people who like are trying to talk out with their teams. Like use language that you know, like don’t use like, Oh I’ve been there. That kind of thing. Cause you won’t be there like,

Speaker 4: 51:32 But the other key thing to honesty here, now these, these are tips on how to help teens. But this is a tip for teens too, is you need to be honest. If someone asks you if you’re okay, it’s all right to say, no, I’m not, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. You don’t want to say yes, I’m fine when you’re really not fine.

Speaker 5: 51:53 Yeah. And that’s also a problem with a related thing with bullying. I remember watching a video where like the one kid’s being bullied and he just didn’t say anything until he just can’t take it anymore. And if you said it from the beginning, it would have helped. And I always thought like I’d be the same way. But having the problems, having my own and starting Joel problems, I realized I didn’t really want to talk to people until we started the podcast. And levy started to becoming more honest and open with you guys,

Speaker 4: 52:24 Right? Honest, doesn’t mean you have to talk about that if you’re not ready, honestly needs, you have to acknowledge it because the more people ask you if you’re okay and the more you say, yes I am, the less apt you are to actually recognize that you’re not okay and deal with it. Yeah. It’s one, it’s like the old adage, you could tell a lie often enough. Eventually somebody believes it. Yeah. And we don’t want you to think that you’re okay if you’re not. So when someone asks you if you’re okay, the best response is, no, I’m really not, but I’m not ready to talk about it just yet. And at that point in time, most people, most adults will sort of back off and give you the space. The fact that you acknowledge that you’re not okay is the most important thing.

Speaker 5: 53:16 And I would remember when I used to always think negative and just didn’t want to do really anything with people. And whenever they would say they were okay, I would always get frustrated at them because they were just, I just couldn’t take it. I would always say, I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m good when in reality I really wasn’t. I can definitely say like before everything, I definitely wasn’t honest with myself.

Speaker 4: 53:41 That’s great. And that’s important to get to that point then. It’s tough sometimes. So let’s come back and we’ll get your closing remarks in your shout outs. Okay. Go for closing remarks.

Speaker 5: 53:58 Okay, so for everyone in the audience, not just the, not just the teens, but also any adults, just know that we are all going to experience a loss at some point. I can’t exactly say what kind of laws, like as we said before, everyone experienced loss differently. Like you might have experienced the steps we’ve laid out, but you might experience and even new steps, you might experience them in a different order and you might notice we in some of the steps at all. But no matter what, we can always say, we will all experience some sort of form of loss or grief, whether it’s the loss of a job opportunity, being fired from your job, the loss of a pet or a loved one or divorce or a failed relationship. Just no loss. It grief and loss is common. And there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it.

Speaker 5: 54:55 I mean there are wrong ways that you shouldn’t deal with it, but there’s no one right way. It’s basically like a puzzle sometimes. Like there’s different ways you can take to get there and in the end they can all lead up to one good result. Okay. Any shout outs today? I guess I’ll give a shout out to all of our, the members of our family who have sadly passed away they have definitely taught, I can definitely say all the loss I’ve been at all of the losses I’ve been able to learn definitely helped me out better understand what death and loss and grief was.

Speaker 4: 55:40 Okay, good. A shout out there. Good. A closing remarks and you guys gotta do it for us for this week. Check us out on YouTube at a into things our websites, insights into You can hit us on Facebook at into things podcast. You can email us at comments, at insights into things and all the other different things that we have.

Speaker 5: 56:14 Yeah. And don’t forget to check out our newest, our other podcast and sites and entertainment and our newest one insights and tomorrow, which we should be filming a new one.

Speaker 4: 56:24 We should be filming a new episode soon. We will be filming a new episode of insights into tomorrow on Sunday. This Sunday is a matter of facts on the afternoon starting sometime around two and insights in entertainment tomorrow live probably around nine in the morning and everything as usual goes live Monday at eight. I YouTube normally on YouTube on Buzzsprout. You can get the pod audio version of the And I think that’s it for us. We are done another one in the books. Bye.

Show Notes

  • Introduction
    • Insights Into Teens: Episode 32 “Grief and Loss”
    • My insightful and inspiring co-host Madison Whalen
  • What is Grief

Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability.

Experts advise those grieving to realize they can’t control the process and to prepare for varying stages of grief. Understanding why they’re suffering can help, as can talking to others and trying to resolve issues that cause significant emotional pain, such as feeling guilty for a loved one’s death.

Mourning can last for months or years. Generally, pain is tempered as time passes and as the bereaved adapts to life without a loved one, to the news of a terminal diagnosis or to the realization that someone they love may die.

  • The Seven Stages of Grief
    • Health Line –
    • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
      • Breakup or divorce: “They’re just upset. This will be over tomorrow.”
      • Job loss: “They were mistaken. They’ll call tomorrow to say they need me.”
      • Death of a loved one: “She’s not gone. She’ll come around the corner any second.”
      • Terminal illness diagnosis: “This isn’t happening to me. The results are wrong.”
  • Pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs.
  • Anger and bargaining. You may lash out, telling God or a higher power that you’ll do anything they ask if they’ll only grant you relief from these feelings.
    • Breakup or divorce: “I hate him! He’ll regret leaving me!”
    • Job loss: “They’re terrible bosses. I hope they fail.”
    • Death of a loved one: “If she cared for herself more, this wouldn’t have happened.”
    • Terminal illness diagnosis: “Where is God in this? How dare God let this happen!”
  • Depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you process and reflect on the loss.
    • Breakup or divorce: “Why go on at all?”
    • Job loss: “I don’t know how to go forward from here.”
    • Death of a loved one: “What am I without her?”
    • Terminal illness diagnosis: “My whole life comes to this terrible end.”
  • The upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief like anger and pain have died down, and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state.
  • Reconstruction and working through. You can begin to put pieces of your life back together and carry forward.
  • Acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the future.
    • Breakup or divorce: “Ultimately, this was a healthy choice for me.”
    • Job loss: “I’ll be able to find a way forward from here and can start a new path.”
    • Death of a loved one: “I am so fortunate to have had so many wonderful years with him, and he will always be in my memories.”
    • Terminal illness diagnosis: “I have the opportunity to tie things up and make sure I get to do what I want in these final weeks and months.”
  • Six Basic Principles of Teen Grief
    • Grieving is the teen’s natural reaction to a death
    • Each teen’s grieving experience is unique
    • There are no “right” and “wrong” ways to grieve
    • Every loss is unique and is experienced differently
    • The grieving process is influenced by many issues
      • Social support systems available for the teen (family, friends and/or community)
      • Circumstances of the loss
      • The nature of the relationship with the person who was lost – harmonious, abusive, conflictual, unfinished, communicative
      • The teen’s level of involvement in the process of loss
      • The emotional and developmental age of the teen
      • The teen’s previous experiences with loss
    • Grief is ongoing
  • How to help a grieving teenager
    • Grieving teenagers still want to be “normal.”
      • Adolescence is a time when most teens just want to fit in. So when a tragedy sets a teen apart, it’s all the harder.
    • Friends are important
      • Adolescence is also a time when peers play a starring role, much more so than in early childhood. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to teenage grief and loss, teens may lean more on peers than grown-ups
    • Let a grieving teenager take the lead
      • It’s not helpful to try to direct what a grieving teenager should do, say, or feel. Rather, follow where they lead
    • Be careful with your language
      • It’s hard to know what to say to a grieving teenager. What not to say: “Things will get better,” or “Shouldn’t you be over this by now?” What you could say instead: “How are you?” or even “Do you want to talk about it?” Again, follow the teen’s lead.
    • Give them something to do
      • This can include helping to memorialize the family member or friend. For example  you could make T-shirts in memory of the deceased
    • Be honest
      • This is particularly important in the event of an “anticipated death,” such as a terminal illness. Sometimes out of a desire to protect our children, we’re not completely honest about a situation, but they know something is happening, so be very honest about what is going on. If not, resentment can build up.
    • Get help if needed
      • With time, most grieving teenagers are able to get back to the normal routines of daily living, though you should anticipate ups and downs.  But when it comes to teen grief, some struggle more than others and may need additional support.
  • Closing remarks and shoutouts