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Teen Grief After a Georgia Drunk Driving Death

It is a sad fact that many of the victims of Georgia DUI accidents are young people. Nearly one quarter of teen accident deaths involve alcohol. If your child has lost a close friend or sibling to a drunk driver, they may find the loss difficult to accept. As a parent, you want to help your teenager. Atlanta DUI victim attorney Shane Smith has provided the advice below to help parents of teens.

A teenager drunk driving accident may be the first experience your teen has with death. Or, perhaps if your teen has experienced the death of a loved one before, then a teen drunk driving accident may be his first realization that death can also affect young people. After the loss of a friend to a Georgia drunk driving accident, your teen may feel powerless, angry, or sad. She may have trouble believing that life will ever be normal again.

Like adults, teens go through a grieving process. When your teen first learned about the death, he may have felt numb, as if the accident occurred in a dream. This is a normal reaction. The brain produces this numbness to protect itself from becoming overwhelmed by emotions it is not ready to handle.

When the numbness begins to wear off, your teen may find herself focusing on the friend who passed away. Your teen may picture the crash and the death. She may want more information. Thoughts of her friend and of the Georgia DUI crash may keep her up at night. She may dream about the accident. These things are also normal. Her mind is trying to make sense of a situation that just doesn’t make sense. She is looking for answers and trying to find a way to accept what has happened. Your child may even deny that the event ever happened.

While your teen comes to terms with the Georgia drunk driving death, he may find it difficult to focus on everyday life. He may have difficulty concentrating on homework. His grades may temporarily drop. It is a good idea to speak to your child’s guidance counselor about the loss.

Your teen may also feel angry. She may be angry at the driver that caused the accident or angry at her friend for getting in a car before the crash. She may be angry with the doctors who couldn’t save her friend’s life. The anger may not be rational, but it is normal. It too will pass with time.

After the anger passes, your teen may feel guilty. He may feel that he is somehow responsible for the accident or that he should have prevented it in some way.

Once your teenager has begun to accept the death, she may feel profound sadness. She may believe that life will never be normal again. Although your teen may seem to be in despair, this is a sign that she is accepting the death. However, you should watch for the following signs of depression:

  • Thoughts of suicide or harming oneself
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Difficulty participating in daily life 
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits

If your teen shows signs of depression, seek professional help right away.

Atlanta DUI victim attorney Shane Smith offers advice for families affected by drunk driving accidents in his book, I Was Hit By A Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Call 866-979-1629 to request your free copy. To discuss a Georgia DUI car crash with attorney Shane Smith, contact his law office at 866-979-1629.

See our article “Helping Your Teen After a Georgia DUI Death” for practical tips about helping your teen cope with grief.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia