Grief in Youth

Grief can affect anyone, including young people. In some tragic cases, youth experience grief following the loss of a parent.

Past research shows that several cancer-bereaved youths accounted for unresolved grief several years after the passing of a parent (Bylund-Grenklo et al., 2021, p. 1). The grief work hypothesis suggests that, to heal, the bereaved person needs to process the pain of grief in some manner. In their study, Bylund-Grenklo et al. (2021) examined acute grief experiences and reactions in half a year post-loss among cancer-bereaved teenagers. The authors further examined long-term grief resolution and possible predictors of having had “an okay way to grieve” in the first thirty days post-loss.

Fifty-seven per cent of the participants stated that they did not have a manner to grieve that felt okay throughout the first half a year after the passing of their parent (Bylund-Grenklo et al., 2021). This was associated with a greater risk for long-lasting unresolved grief. A connection with long-term, unanswered grief was also discovered for those who stated that they had been numbing and postponing, for those overpowered by grief, for those disheartened from grieving, and for those who concealed their grief to defend the other parent. Being male, having good family cohesion, and having conversed about what was important with the passing parent were found to be predictors of an acceptable grieving method.

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Bylund-Grenklo, T., Birgisdóttir, D., Beernaert, K., Nyberg, T., Skokic, V., Kristensson, J., Steineck, G., Fürst, C. J., & Kreicbergs, U. (2021). Acute and long-term grief reactions and experiences in parentally cancer-bereaved teenagers. BMC Palliative Care, 20(1), 75.