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Therapeutic Exercises for Grieving Teenagers

by Ashley Miller, studioD

Most teens have difficulty coping with grief when loss hits close to home. Some teens may not know where to turn or how to deal with their feelings. Adults can aid teenagers as they grieve by helping them accept the fact that they are mourning, says Ryan's Heart, a nonprofit organization for grieving families. And certain therapeutic exercises may help teens as they make their way through the mourning process.

Memory Scrapbook or Box

Assembling a memory scrapbook or box is a beneficial way for some teens to memorialize their loved one and to process feelings of grief and loss, according to Preferred Hospice's website on teen grief and bereavement. A memory box or book can be personalized and kept for reflection and to help a teen remember a loved one throughout her life. It can contain any type of memorabilia the teen wishes to include, such as poems, photos or artwork. Memory boxes or scrapbooks can help teens vent feelings of loss in a creative, productive manner while helping them stay connected to their loved one.

Grief Groups

A grief group is a type of support group for teens who have experienced loss and are going through the mourning process. According to The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children & Families, teens may benefit from grief groups because it usually helps to talk to and learn from peers who have faced similar losses and experiences. Grief groups are usually offered by various institutions throughout the country, such as nonprofit organizations, hospices and hospitals. If you'd like to find a grief group for teens in your area, the Dougy Center maintains an online, searchable database of organizations that offer grief groups and support throughout the United States.


Journaling is another therapeutic activity teens may find helpful, especially if they don't yet want to talk to others about their emotions. Journaling can also be a useful activity when there's no one else around to whom the teen can talk to. In her book "Helping Teens Work Through Grief," counselor Mary Kelly Perschy suggests that teens write letters to their loved one in their journal. Letter writing is a structured journaling activity that can help teens maintain a sense of connection and feel as though their loved one is still available to them. But teens can also use journaling in any way they wish -- some teens enjoy free-associating, while others may wish to write poems or songs in their loved one's memory.

Physical Exercise

Not all teens want to talk about their emotions verbally or in writing. Engaging in physical exercise can be a helpful way for teens to release pent up feelings of anger or sadness about the loss of their loved one, Ryan's Heart suggests. When your teen is feeling sad or depressed, exercise might be the last thing she feels like doing. But even going for a walk around the block can produce benefits. And walking with a friend or family member can give teens an opportunity to talk about their feelings when they feel ready to do so.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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