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I may think that life is meaningless, feel guilty for being okay, or withdraw from family and friends—or retreat to social media or gaming.

Acknowledge that it is painful when someone you care about dies. Remind me that whatever I’m feeling doesn’t need to be kept hidden. Talk about your own feelings and reassure me that when I’m ready to talk, I can.  

Discuss your concerns about sharing things on social media. Encourage me to reach out to the Oregon YouthLine, where my privacy is assured and marketers won’t be sold my data.

If you can’t do this yet, it’s okay to be honest and say “I am still so emotional about this that I can’t help you right now.” Ask me who is an another adult I can trust to talk with about my feelings.

Offer to find me a counselor if it seems easier for me to talk to someone outside the family.

I might have behavior problems that are new or worse than before the trauma (angry outbursts, irritability, rule breaking, revenge seeking). I may be doing serious, unsafe, or harmful behaviors (self-injury, risky sexual behavior, drug or alcohol use).

Have patience and try to remain calm while setting appropriate limits on my behavior. 


Assure me that it’s okay to and encourage me to get back into routines and activities with friends. For serious, risky, or harmful behaviors, let me know that we’re going to get professional help.


I am having trouble concentrating and paying attention or have a change in sleep patterns, such as staying up later or sleeping all day.

Realize that I may be having scary thoughts about the trauma and may not tell you.


Talk with me about ways to cope with these, like getting back to enjoyable activities or listening to calming music. Taking a technology break at night will help me to sleep better.


I have physical reactions like jumpiness, stomach aches,

headaches, a pounding heart, or body aches. These may be worse after being around people, places, sounds, situations or other things that remind me of the trauma or the person who died.

Recognize that I may minimize these physical reactions—or do the opposite—exaggerate a minor ailment or injury.


Encourage me to use physical activities to release tension or try relaxing things, like deep breathing or gentle stretching.

Sometimes I wonder if something bad will happen to me or other important people in my life.


I may express this by appearing anxious or worried or seeming not to care about the future (not studying, skipping school), or risk-taking behavior.

Help me develop a realistic picture of the dangers in life.


Talk about ways for me to take control of my safety and future (e.g. driving carefully, eating well and exercising, asking others for help).


Remind me that I make good decisions and that you and other trusted adults will care for me.

I may talk about feeling responsible for the death.

Let me know that this is a common response to grief by youth and adults.


Give honest, accurate, and age-appropriate information.


Remind me that you will always tell me the truth. If I feel responsible, reassure me to not worry; that I did the best I could at the time.

Understand that I may be overwhelmed by all of these feelings, but I want to look strong or act as if nothing is wrong. This may be a sign of traumatic grief, and a professional can help.


I might refuse to go places or do things that remind me of the person who died, or of how my life has changed since the person died.

I may not want to talk about or remember good things about the person who died because it brings up reminders of the traumatic death.

Keep pictures of the person who died. Let me know that when I’m ready, you have them safely stored.


When I’m ready, tell me stories about the person and help me make me a memory book so I can keep the person in my mind and my heart.

Sometimes I might not want to talk about the person who died. I may try to change or reject the topic (“leave me alone”), shrug it off, or be angry with the person who died. I may hide my discomfort and act as if nothing bothers me or as if I’m is doing fine.

Realize that I may think that talking about the trauma or the person who died will upset you.


Let me sort out my feelings in my own time. My anger will become less as I adjust to the loss. Remind me that it’s okay to talk to a professional and help me make that connection.


If you feel rejected, stay involved with me. Know where I am and what I’m doing. I need your presence more than ever.


I may think that life is meaningless, feel guilty for being okay, or withdraw from family and friends—or retreat to social media or gaming.

Discuss solutions for feeling sad and mention that, while social media can be helpful, I may feel better seeing friends in person.


Check with other adults I can confide in to discuss ways to support me. If I seem very sad or guilty, seek professional help.


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