Coping ... what is normal?

There is no right way or wrong way to react to a death of someone close. Some people cry and talk about it. Others stay silent, do not dry, or cry by themselves. Try not to judge yourself or others by the way you or they act. Sometimes you can clearly see a person hurting and that, too, can be painful for you.  Sometimes people hide their pain; they may act unchanged on the outside, but be hurting inside.

“I was afraid to go to the service…afraid if I saw my friends crying or if someone said something about him,  I would start to cry, too, and not be able to stop”    - Alex

Grief is a natural reaction to death and loss.  It can be scary for some teens because they may feel like their emotions are out of control.  It is hard to control the thoughts and physical feelings brought on by the loss.  This sense of being out of control is a part of the grieving process, but can still be frightening.

“I feel like it’s not real, like I am watching myself from outside my body or something -  like it is happening to someone else” - Chris

Feeling disconnected or “numb” is common when you are grieving. It is a way to protect yourself from the reality of what happened and from being overwhelmed by the pain of facing it.  Giving yourself time may be helpful.  When you are ready, let the feelings come out.

“We used to hang out in a big group but not so much anymore.  It is like being together will remind us of who is missing.” - Josh

People react in different ways.  Some become closer to others in the group, but others may feel they need to keep a distance from painful reminders of the friend that died.  The group may be a painful reminder. Sometimes, this gets better with time.  Some people have found it helpful to do things together like going to a game or a movie where they are a little distracted and the focus is on something other than talking to each other.  For some people, it is helpful to talk directly about the person who died and to share stories and memories of happy times with him.  What did the person like to do: what did he think was funny; what were her favorite songs?  Although thinking about these may make you feel sad, it will help you remember him/her in a positive way and help you know that a part of your friend remains with you.

“My sister died 6 months ago.  I try to smile and not let people know how I feel.  I tried to talk to my dad about her, but he got all teary.  I don’t want to make it worse.” - Amanda

Sometimes people, young people as well as adults, try to avoid the pain by ignoring it or by drinking and using drugs.  It may feel like it helps for the moment, but it is only a temporary remedy. Denying your feelings only keeps the pain locked inside.  Try not to deny your own pain in order to spare others distress.  If you don’t want to express your pain in another person’s presence, still try to express it alone, maybe in a journal, or to someone else you trust.


Hurting yourself is NEVER
the right answer.
There are people who can help.

For immediate help call
911 or

Riverside Emergency Services

Newton Wellesley Hospital

To talk with someone call
Samariteen Hotline
1-800-252-TEEN (8336)

Samaritan Helpline
1-877-870-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Support and Help Around You