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My Mother Passed Away

Published: November 12, 2007
Dear TeenHealthFX,
TeenHealthFX, i dont even know where to start. I feel like such a train wreck. My mother passed away december 24, 2006. i'm in highschool, so i know that this is a crucial time for me to be accelling in academics. in sixth through eighth grade, i got high honors i was expecting the same for highschool. but after my mom passed, i could never think right, and i ended up not doing as well as i hoped. (mostly B's and C's and one D i think). but this year is sophomore year for me and i was hoping for something better. but no, im doing well in everyting but geometry. me teacher called me today and told me i was failing! that is a huge downer. i was wondering if a loss can mess with your academic performance. i dont want an excuse to do bad in school, just because my mom dad. all the while this is going on i started freshman year at a public school, and transferred to a private one. and this year, my grandmother is thinking about my religious life and that going to private school can help me deal with my loss. i dont know what to do! help please???
Signed: My Mother Passed Away

Dear My Mother Passed Away,

 

TeenHealthFX is deeply sorry to hear that you lost your mother last December and that this past year has been so difficult for you. The loss of a loved one can have a tremendous impact on a person – particularly for a child who has lost his/her parent. While teenagers are in a stage of life where they are moving towards becoming more independent, they definitely still need parental figures to be there for them with support and guidance during what can often be a very trying and stressful time of life. Losing your mother last year must have brought up feelings for you of sadness, anger, and even anxiety. And dealing with such a loss must also have been very stressful and overwhelming. And when a person is feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, and is coping with various negative emotions, it makes it much harder to concentrate, feel motivated, complete tasks, and easily get through lots of everyday activities. That said, FX thinks that it is important for you to be compassionate and patient with yourself, and to understand that you are not making “excuses” – but rather understandably having difficulties coping after a very painful loss.

 

In terms of what you can do to help yourself get through this time, FX suggests the following:

 

  • Speak with your teachers in the classes you are having trouble in and let them know that you are having difficulties functioning in class due to continued problems coping with the loss of your mother. Let them know that you are trying to get some help in place for yourself to deal with this, and that you would appreciate any assistance they can give you when it comes to your academics. If you need help talking with your teachers about this, you can always ask your grandmother or school guidance counselor to help you.
  • Find out if your school has a social worker or psychologist on staff, and see if that person is available for you to meet with – whether on a regular or as-needed basis. It is important for you to have supports in place and people to talk to when you need it – and the more adults you can turn to, the better.
  • Since you mention religion, if your religion is important to you and a source of comfort, consider meeting with a religious leader at your church or temple as another place to go for guidance and support. And talk with this person and your grandmother about whether or not the transfer to a private school has been helpful. Is this new environment more comforting to you or has this change in schools been another difficult adjustment for you and loss to deal with? And is the private school enough to deal with what you are going through, or do you need additional supports, like the ones we have listed below?
  • Consider meeting with a mental health professional so that you can have a place to express and process the feelings associated with the loss of your mother and where you can deal with the many issues around grieving for her loss.
  • Consider joining a bereavement group – especially if you can find one in your area geared towards teens. It might help you not to feel so alone in this if you have other people you can talk to who can really relate to what you are going through.

 

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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