As a psychotherapist to a number of young people, I am often reminded of how devastating loss is to this client group. The primary trigger to usually parents contacting myself is that a young person is school refusing, anxious, low mood or avoidant of exams.
1) Putting on the mask- This works generally extremely well at keeping peoples at bay as you just smile and wave and answer ‘fine’ to others questioning. This ties in with shutting off from feelings, the numb phase of grief.
2) Loss of meaning and increased cynicism – It feels hard to imagine other’s really care about them.They are just getting on the pity band wagon. What’s the point of living, we are all going to die anyway.
3) Loss of playfulness – The system around a young person has changed. This can trigger a person to feel they need to become a young carer filling the shoes of a lost person and lose out on natural developmental steps. Can I still have fun without you?
4) Survivor guilt -How do I carry on now without you? This weaves in with memories of the past and how to continue without that significant person on a daily basis. I feel guilty feeling alive when you are not.
5) Confusion – How do I mark significant dates such as your birthday or the day you died?
6) Depression – Finally low mood is one of the key ones. It seems to create loss parallel symptoms of loss. It is hard to engage with joy and a wish to avoid others is present.
7) All arrows lead back to the loss – Loss so dominates thoughts that all emotional energy leads back to the same point. Loss of future fun events. Loss of meaning.
8) Triggers to other losses – This often layers with other losses experienced by the person or could create meaning with historical events.
If you know a young person struggling with loss, feel free to contact myself.