Tips for Beginning a Teen Grief Group


~ When advertising the group, emphasize specific topics and issues related to grief.

~ Inform school guidance counselors, mental health professionals, youth leaders in churches and synagogues, directors of youth groups and families of hospice clients.

~ Send notices to newspapers, hospice newsletters, school communiques, church bulletins or anywhere youth may go.

~ Call or meet with each new teen, ensuring that he or she will know at least one person by name when attending their first meeting.

~ If leaders are paraprofessionals, provide for regular consultation with a mental health professional. Although this group is not intended to be a therapy group, a professional can provide insights as well as determine when additional help for a certain teen may be warranted.


~ Begin with an icebreaker and introductions. Follow with comments about confidentiality, logistics of time and place, dates and cancellation policy.

~ Talk about stages of the grieving process and personalize with your own story. Encourage teens to share, but don't pressure.

~ Present a partial agenda, then brainstorm for issues teens would like to have included in this series on grief.
Although a tentative agenda of topics is determined, any concern that is more pressing takes precedence.

~ Include humor whenever possible and appropriate. These moments can lighten the atmosphere and increase the comfort level. Allow time for fun.

~ A joke session, appropriately timed, can relieve nervousness. Provide snacks.

~ Vary the format. Use of art materials or an occasional film may elicit responses from less-verbal teens.

~ Encourage social activities. Facilitate the exchange of phone numbers by offering to make lists.

~ Have a specific time for reminiscing. Encourage members to bring a memento of the person who died.

~ Begin the closure process a few weeks before the last meeting. Provide time for teens to bring up any issues and talk about what the group meant to them. Provide information about a future group. A party or picnic might be a good closing activity.

~ Schedule at least one parent meeting. This both informs parents about the group and connects them with others who are also concerned for their grieving teens.

~ Invite former group members to assist with a new group. Their willingness to tell their own story can still be
therapeutic in their own healing, and it can encourage newer group members to share.

Taken from "Teen Grief Group: Rispite From Isolation", BEREAVEMENT MAGAZINE/JUNE 1990, page 43


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Crazy Grief

Accompanying Teens Whose Lives Are Touched By Loss

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