For Parents: Your Teen and SLAP’D
As a parent or family member of a teenager who has lost a parent, you may be wondering what SLAP’D might offer for your teen. It is true that, after the loss of a loved one, no website can provide the same assistance as a supportive family and social network or grief-focused counseling from a mental health professional. However, the online platform and teen-created, teen-focused format of SLAP’d offers some unique benefits that may not be readily available through other resources.
SLAP’D was founded by and continues to be directed by Genevieve Liu, a teenager who first created SLAP’D after losing her dad. Genevieve draws upon her own personal experiences in offering a website that’s written from grieving teens’ perspectives and aimed at other teens who have survived the loss of a parent. At the same time, SLAP’D has an impressive roster of grief professionals who both contribute articles and other material to the site as well as provide evidence-based guidance behind the scenes to ensure that SLAP’D maintains a firm foundation in proven grief resources and wisdom.
The grief process of teenagers who have lost a parent is very different from that of the surviving parents well as younger children and adult relatives. SLAP’D is a resource that teens can use on their own terms and in their own time in the manner that best serves them at that moment, wherever they are in their grieving process. SLAP’D is also a completely free resource that is self-service, available day and night in an online format that teenagers feel comfortable accessing. Some teens may find that simply anonymously browsing the articles, “Ask an Expert” resources, and forum topics may be very helpful to their grief process, while at other times they may wish to write in to ask a question, post a comment, or incorporate pictures, videos, and written word to create a Tribute Page to honor their loved one. By offering many different opportunities for teens to educate themselves, hear about others’ experiences, and express their own truths, SLAP’D offers a safe space for teens to grieve in their own way.
Genevieve says that after losing her dad, she began looking for accessible resources that would speak to her and her siblings’ experiences as young people who found themselves suddenly without a parent — and quickly found that those resources were almost impossible to find. Thus, Genevieve founded SLAP’D with the intention of offering other teens a better and more accessible resource than what had been available to her and her brother and sister. Similarly, my own workplace, the Center for Grief Recovery (originally named the Rothman-Cole Center for Sibling Loss), was founded almost thirty years ago by Jerry Rothman, who as a child had survived the death of his older brother. Jerry channeled his early experience of loss into the development of a therapy practice, the first of its kind, that would help people grieving the death of siblings. Like Jerry, Genevieve’s own experience of loss has also resulted in some gains: a deep compassion for the suffering of others and a personal mission to create new opportunities to help others heal. In this way and in so many others, SLAP’D shows teens that something new and meaningful can grow from even the most painful losses.
Meg Kelleher, LCSW
Center for Grief Recovery