Being a college student has its own difficulties, but losing a loved one and navigating the grieving process while being a student can feel overwhelming. It also may be your first time experiencing a major loss. The grieving process looks different for everyone. It can be helpful to understand what grief is, how it impacts us, and ways to cope with it. Grief is our response to loss, particularly when someone we know dies. Often we think of our emotional response to grief; however, it also impacts us physically, cognitively, behaviorally, socially, spiritually, and culturally. 

Signs and Symptoms of Grief

Everyone experiences grief differently. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that people may experience during the grieving process.

  • Emotional symptoms: numbness, denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, yearning, anger, anger, despair, guilt, resentment, regret, anxiety, worry
  • Physical symptoms: headaches, stomachaches, body aches, changes to sleep, loss of appetite or overeating, fatigue, feeling generally sick and run down, weakness, back pain, indigestion or nausea
  • Changes in thinking: cognition slowed, difficulty concentrating, difficulty thinking or remembering, difficulty making decisions or avoiding decisions, more difficult to care about things you used to
  • Changes in behavior: social isolation and withdrawal, neglecting responsibilities, decrease in physical activity, decrease in self care (showering, grooming, etc.), increased use of alcohol or drugs

Coping with Your Grief

Mourning the loss of a loved one may be one of the hardest things you will face. Grief reactions will come and go, for some it will be for many months or for others even longer. Coping with your grief will take time and support. Be patient with yourself.

  • Find your support network. Reach out to family and friends who will support you through this time. Support can come in many forms from someone providing a listening ear to someone cooking dinner for you. Your support network wants to help you through this difficult time. It’s okay to let them help you. It can also be helpful to find support groups for people going through the same sense of grief.
  • Express how you feel. While it might be difficult to talk about your feelings, speaking with others will help you work through the grieving process. Your needs may be different throughout the grieving process and it can be helpful to voice how they are changing.
  • Take care of yourself. Grieving isn’t just emotional, it impacts your physical health too. It’s important to make sure you’re eating well, getting enough rest, doing physical activity, and checking in with your primary care physician if needed.
  • Be patient. There is no definitive timeline for the grieving process and it is different for everyone. Tasks that were basic before your loss may be extremely difficult now. It can take a long time to figure out how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
  • Seek outside help. If your grief feels like it is too much for you to manage on your own and it is affecting your daily functioning over a long period of time, seek professional assistance to help you with the grieving process. There are clinicians who specialize in grief and loss. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

Remember: grief is a normal reaction to losing a loved one. It takes time to understand how the loss will impact you and it’s different for everyone. While you’ll never stop missing your loved one, the pain will lessen over time.


Grief & COVID


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