What Do I Do When Teenagers Deal With Death?
by Dr. Steven Gerali
Zondervan/ Youth Specialties 2009

This is a question that no youth worker desires to deal with, or to even have happen to one of their youth, but unfortunately it does. For many youth workers, this will be a new experience, and the overwhelming emotions can be exactly that–overwhelming, even to those who are not personally experiencing them. What Do I Do When Teenagers Deal With Death is an excellent resource to grab if you have never had to deal with such an event in a teenager’s life, if you are going through the experience right now or if you are a “pro” at dealing with death and grief.

This book is published by Youth Specialties as a part of a larger series, What Do I do When. This is a quick read full of information and serves as a part of a larger set of resources to help inform youth workers on different experiences that will arise at some point in youth ministry. The doctrinal background of this book is very generalized, and does not disagree with our Lutheran confessions. However, the message of the hope of the resurrection is not as clear as it may be in some resources. The author does make sure this is understood as the best message of comfort from a youth worker ministering to those dealing with death either of themselves or of another person.

The book is separated into two sections, the first dealing with terminal illnesses and their affects, and the second section dealing with how to minster to and provide comfort and hope for those dying or grieving over the death of a loved one. I especially found helpful the quick overview of different terminal illnesses. This, of course, is not a medical book, but the author presents the needed information to give you some grasp of what the teenager or their family member or friend might be struggling with physically and emotionally.

The second section of the book is a very important read. Dr. Gerali goes through quite well the ministry of comfort and hope that will take place before one dies, immediately after their death and even after most have finished the grieving process. He also gives a brief overview of the grieving stages to prepare the youth worker, and especially how these occur within teenagers.

I strongly recommend that anybody working with youth, their families and their friends, take the short amount of time to read through this book. It provides useful information to understanding terminal illnesses and their affects on those who suffer because of them, the grieving process and how it will affect the teenagers and families around the deceased and even how to best minister to these people.