When we lose someone that we are close with, whether it is a friend, family member, or someone else, it can be a very difficult and confusing process. The grieving process can also be very different depending on the individual and the person that passed away.
People can often get stuck in focusing on how they are ‘supposed’ to feel, which leads to them judging that they are not grieving ‘correctly’.
There is no one correct way to grieve and, at C&PS, we have seen many students going through a natural and understandable grieving process while questioning it much of the time. Others may be comfortable and familiar with how people react and respond to grief and come to C&PS more to focus on getting support.
Grief can also be complicated by students having mixed feelings about the person that passed away or the manner in which they died.
- A student may have had a very poor relationship with their mother prior to her passing away, but had been hoping to improve their relationship.
- A student may have had a good relationship with a friend, but that person died after getting into a car accident while driving after drinking a significant amount of alcohol. This leads to a variety of emotions including sadness, confusion, guilt, and anger.
Students who experience complicated grief can be particularly good candidates for therapy, as it can help navigate through the many emotions that arise.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD GET HELP?
There is not clear answer to this as it certainly depends on the person. We recommend that students reach out for support if they lost someone very close to them and/or if they are noticing that their reaction is interfering with other activities.
Sometimes students meet once with a therapist and then grieve without professional guidance. Others meet with a therapist or attend a group for a more extended period of time.
It simply depends on the individual and we are happy to discuss with you which process may make the most sense given your situation.
One service that we offer at C&PS is our Living With Loss group. Some students may initially be somewhat reluctant to participate in a group therapy setting, but we have seen this group be an amazing support for students coping with a loss. It can be very powerful to hear others discuss going through a similar situation to you.
COPING STRATEGIES FOR GRIEVING
Sometimes, when we have lost someone, our first impulse is to avoid thinking about the difficult feelings as much as possible. If we do this too much, it can prolong the grieving process and lead to it impacting us more.
If you elect not to meet with a therapist, it can be very useful to talk to supportive friends and family members about what you are experiencing. You do not necessarily need to tell them everything you are experiencing, simply communicating some of your experience can be helpful
Many students find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings about what they are experiencing. This may include writing them in a document that you review later (it can sometimes be helpful to see how differently/similar you are feeling with your grieving process compared to how you were feeling 1/3/6/12 months earlier).
You may also decide that you prefer to write something down and delete it. This can be helpful to, as it is allowing you to get your thoughts and feelings out. You may also find it helpful to incorporate your artistic side as a means of expression as well.
Dealing with a significant loss is an important time to remember to focus on yourself and your needs. It can be easy to exercise less frequently, forget to eat regularly or change your routine in many other ways.
First, make sure you are taking care of your basic needs (e.g. food, sleep, hygiene, washing clothes, etc.). Next, this is a time to remember what activities you enjoy and seeing if there might be an opportunity to engage in some of them.
This can be a very emotional experience. We would not recommend that you do this until you have support and are further along in the grieving process. Many people who believe as if they are in a good place with their grief opt not to use this strategy, but it has also been very helpful for many.
This letter can be an opportunity to share with the person all of your thoughts and feelings about them and their passing. Sometimes it may include you simply describing how sad you are that they are gone. Other times it may include expressing feeling of frustration that you have towards them. What you do with the letter is your choice.
THREE STRATEGIES FOR GRIEF TO TRY TODAY
- If you are curious if your grief may be related to anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, you may find it helpful to take one of our 8 mental health screening tools.
HELPFUL LINKS AND SUPPORT
- The following sections may be helpful as you learn more about the grieving process: anxiety, depression, homesickness, perfectionism, stress, and time management
- Explore our popular mental health apps section to see if there is an app that can support you
- Learn more about other various self care skills you can try