How to Support a Teen After a Murder or Violent Death

How to Support a Teen After a Murder or Violent Death

Losing a loved one is difficult for any member of the family. However, teenagers may have more challenges dealing with the loss of a loved one, especially if the death is the result of murder or violence. 

In this article, Roderick C. Lopez, an experienced wrongful death attorney in Laredo, shares some tips for supporting a teen after a violent death, including seeking professional counseling to help them process the loss.

How Does a Teenager React to the Death of Someone Close to Them?

Whether it is a family member, friend, or another important person in a teenager’s life, the sudden loss of that person can result in overwhelming emotions and grief. They may develop debilitating conditions as they deal with the death or go through other noticeable changes.

As you work with your teen to accept the death of someone they care about, keep the following things in mind:

  • A teen may not show any emotion at all over the death, or they could experience sudden and violent shifts in mood.
  • Your child may feel that they need to “step up” now that a family member has died. They may try to take on additional responsibilities that could overload them emotionally and physically.
  • Teens typically understand death, but they might have trouble expressing it. Therefore, they may act indifferent about the death even though they are experiencing significant emotional turmoil.
  • A teenager who loses someone close to them may realize for the first time that life can be short. Therefore, you may notice your teenager becoming more cautious and overprotective of the people in their lives.
  • A teenager may begin questioning spiritual and religious beliefs, including becoming angry and renouncing their beliefs.
  • Teenagers may develop psychological conditions in response to a violent death or murder, including chronic depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse.

If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression or other emotional disorders, it is crucial to seek immediate treatment from a medical provider. Even if you do not notice signs of depression or other problems, it can be beneficial for a teenager to talk with a grief counselor, therapist, psychologist, religious leader, or another medical professional.

How Can You Help a Teenager After the Murder or Violent Death of Someone They Know?

Helping your child deal with the death of someone they know begins with being there for them. Be present and accessible in the days and weeks following the death. Check in with your teen often and realize that they could have problems months after the death.

If you notice your teenager trying to take on adult responsibilities, do not discount their efforts. Doing so could make them feel useless or undervalued. Instead, discuss ways they can help that are age-appropriate and do not interfere with school and other activities.

Model healthy grieving. Do not try to be strong for your teenager. Allow them to see you go through the stages of grief and deal with each stage productively and healthily.

Encourage your teenager to talk with you, a therapist, or another person who can help guide them through the stages of grief. Counseling is an effective and beneficial form of treatment for grief. Know the signs of suicide and seek immediate help if your teenager displays any signs of hurting themselves.

If you are pursuing a wrongful death claim, do not hide the legal action from your teenager. Involve them on an age-appropriate level to let them know you seek justice for your loved one.

Everyone Deals With Death in Their Own Way

Your teenager is an individual. Therefore, they will deal with the violent death or murder of someone they know in their own time and manner. You cannot rush the grieving process, nor should you deprive your teenager of grieving a loss.

However, you must talk with your teenager and remain vigilant to watch for signs that they are struggling. Professional help and your support are essential to protect your teen after the death of someone they know. 

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