11 Children, Teens and Suicide Loss Many children worry that asking questions will upset the adult. Reassure them that it’s okay to ask any questions they might have, even if it might be emotional for you. Provide Routines and Consistency Life is often in upheaval after a death. Try to find ways to create safety and predictability for the child so they know what to expect. Consider creating routines around bedtime, after-school activities (e.g., “Homework is done by 7 p.m.”), or meals. Do allow for some flexibility, however, so that children can trust that, if they need a break from a given routine, their world will be responsive (e.g., “You can take a break from homework now and come back to it later”). For teenagers, routines and boundaries can provide a sense of safety and security during uncertain times. They may test and fight such boundaries, but ultimately most find comfort in knowing someone is paying attention to their lives and looking out for them. Let Them Decide Since a death can leave young people feeling powerless, allowing them to make choices can help re-establish a sense of control. These choices can be simple and everyday (e.g., “Do you want to wear your red or purple T-shirt?”) or more complex, such as participating in the memorial service or sorting through the belongings of the person who died. While you may be inclined to become extra vigilant following a suicide death, it is important that teens be able to make some choices for themselves. Balance your teen’s freedom with oversight, and make sure that the friends they choose to spend time with are not encouraging high-risk behavior or negative coping skills. Do keep in mind that some of a grieving teen’s friends may avoid the teen simply because they don’t know how to respond to the death.