The loss of a parent affects every teen differently.
The loss of a parent affects everyone differently. Some find comfort and peace in talking about their loss to family, friends, professionals, or even strangers. Others find solace in solitude and quiet reflection. SLAP’D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies), an online grief support community for teens who have lost a parent, believes that there’s no right time to talk about your grief just like there’s no one right way to grieve. We spoke to Asher Liu, SLAP’D’s Teen Board Chair and Content Director, about his experience and his advice for others who have experienced the death of a parent.
What’s the one piece of advice you give the most often?
The one piece of advice that I give most often to people who are grieving is that there isn’t one right way to grieve. Whatever emotions are running through your brain are okay. They don’t need to be shut down. No one should tell you otherwise.
What are some of the universal experiences you’ve seen in your work?
One very common universal experience that I have seen through parent loss is the resilience people display. Having resilience is always important, but it’s an especially important component of grieving because, while we do grieve, we cannot let that grieving destroy our core strength. Because core strength is what gives us the conviction when we think and speak.
What’s one thing you’d like to share with a new griever?
Different people need and want different things. Some people might really benefit from professional bereavement support, and others might just need some solitude. Some people might need to outwardly process their experiences with other people, and others might need distraction. There is no right or wrong way to heal.
When my father passed away in August of 2012, it seemed as though everyone wanted me to talk about it. They kept pushing me, but I knew the best way for me to grieve was to take my time and process it and talk to people when I was ready. Everybody thought I needed to talk to a counselor, but all I really needed was a good video game and some good friends. That is what I needed, but others may need other kinds of support.
*Legacy.com has private grief support groups that can help, including one specifically for the loss of a parent. Find them here.
What are some ways others can help support someone in their grief?
One of the best ways you can help someone going through a tough grieving period is by letting that person know that you’re there for them and that you’re willing to listen when they’re ready to talk. My friends who helped me the most were the ones who didn’t make me feel obligated to talk about it 24/7.
It’s also important that people who are grieving do not feel pressured to only talk about their grief. Sometimes the best way to support someone is to give them space to laugh, joke, and talk about something totally unrelated. And it’s okay if you don’t know what to say. People sometimes misunderstand that “I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m here for whatever you need” can mean so much more, and can be enough on its own. Sometimes you’ll want to say the exact right thing, in the exact right way but all you really need to do is let that person know that you’re there for them.
Are there any aspects of grief others may find surprising?
One aspect of grief that others might find surprising is that during your grieving period, there are other things on your mind other than the loss of your loved one. If your loved one dies, your life doesn’t just stop. It progresses like everyone else’s does. Even though losing a loved one is hard, really hard, you’re still able to have a real life with all the same aspects and experiences.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that you think can help others?
Purpose and helping others are two of the best healers I found. The way that I found my purpose was working on SLAP’D. SLAP’D has let me connect with other teens who have lost a parent all around the country. It helped me realize that I am not alone. Other people who are grieving can find that same purpose by posting content on/contributing to SLAP’D.
Hi, my name is Asher Liu. I’m fifteen years old and I’m the Teen Board Chair and Content Director at SLAP’D. SLAP’D is a social media platform where teens who have lost a parent can connect with each other through articles. I lost my dad in 2012 when I was 10 years old. My older sister started SLAP’D as a way to connect with other teens who have had similar experiences. When people view SLAP’D, I want them to realize that we’re open to anyone joining the SLAP’D family, and we’re always here to help. I also love playing baseball and hanging out with my siblings, Genevieve and Amelie.
Are you grieving the death of a parent? Find support from others in our private grief support group.