College Students Grieving: 10 Tips for Getting Through a Loss
Unfortunately, college students grieving is becoming a more reoccurring phenomenon in the age of the pandemic. Students always had to deal with losing loved ones while balancing their classes, but with around 250,000 dead from the virus (at this point), it’s something front-and-center on the minds of everyone.
In the following article, we’re going to share several tips for those dealing with grief or the impending threat of it. The number one thing is to keep your wits about you. Then, make sure you do the following.
1. Make Time to Fall Apart
Before you can even think about being functional in your classes and studies, you have to deal with the grief head-on. That means allowing the raw emotions to do what they will.
Find some time where you can release your emotions in a safe and secure environment. Nurture your emotions. Give them a chance to unfold without worrying about what other people think (not that they would hold anything against you anyway).
2. Determine When You Will Return
Grief doesn’t follow a set timeline. In fact, you’ll deal with it for the rest of your life in many cases. That said, it will dissipate in time. While you may be emotional upon your return to the classroom, you’ll be able to envision it in a few days.
Whatever you do, don’t rush back. If your school has a set time period for excused absences dealing with grief, take every day. Going back too soon could lead to setbacks in the grieving process.
3. Communicate With Professors
There are very few professors who will not understand that grief needs its release. As long as you keep them in the loop about what you’re going through, you should get no resistance regarding makeup assignments, projects, and tests.
If you are unfortunate enough to get an unreasonable professor, use your university’s hierarchy to get justice. That might mean going above the professor’s head to your dean. It likely won’t come to that, though, as the last thing any university wants to be known as in the 21st Century is insensitive to their students’ needs.
4. Stay Connected to Friends and Family
Your friends and family are your guides through the journey of grief. In many cases, they could be experiencing the same emotions that you’re feeling. There is comfort in that, to be able to go to someone who understands what you’re going through.
Even if the person didn’t have as close of a relationship with the deceased (or a relationship at all), their affection for you and a basic willingness to listen or to just be in the same room can offer tremendous relief. Keep these people near and dear to you while you have access to them.
5. Spend Time in Meditation or Prayer
Spirituality is important to getting through grief, whether you’re devout to a religion or an atheist. Spirituality is the ability to rejuvenate yourself based on some basic belief system. Christians and Muslims rely on prayer. Other groups might rely on reading.
Still, others might want to convene with nature and go for a long walk or sit quietly in a room and focus on their breathing. Whatever takes you out of raw grief and helps you to process and make sense of things is a good thing. Find your “spiritual practice” during this time, and use it often.
Many use exercise to get in shape so they can look and feel better, but it also plays in pretty well to the spiritual side. First, there is the chemical reaction of endorphins being released into the bloodstream. Next, there is the space that it provides you from real-world problems and the frustrations that it can help you release.
Many people who enjoy exercising use it because of its ability to act as a kind of exorcism for negative emotions. Try it for yourself, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
7. Eat Something
Your body can stop responding to typical needs and urges during periods of deep grief, but that doesn’t mean you need to fill those needs any less. Food is energy, and you’re going to need energy to get through the days ahead.
This could be rather difficult. However, you have to power through it by focusing on light meals and somewhat healthy foods that offer the proper macronutrients. Focus on fiber, protein, and vitamins to ensure that your body has what it needs even if your appetite isn’t what it used to be.
8. Develop a Return Plan
As the days wear on, you’ll be able to see a path back to a normal life. It’s a good idea to start laying out a plan for your return. Think about the makeup work you’ll have to do, the gaps you’ll need to fill in.
Make contact once more with your professors. Consider the days that you have left. Ensure you’re doing everything you can in the interim period to wrap up any loose ends and think more about reintegrating your processes and daily habits.
9. Ease In
When you do go back, don’t try to do too much too soon. As you do so, keep in mind that grief is handled differently by everyone. You don’t have to follow someone else’s plan. You can use ideas or adapt some for your own purposes. Whatever you do, do what you can and be happy with that effort.
10. Realize Grief Can Be a Long Process
You do not stop grieving just because you’re back in class. There will be moments when you relapse. Some of those moments might occur during the classes themselves. If the class is online, as many are nowadays, that may not seem so burdensome. But if it’s an in-person class, simply excuse yourself early.
You can always explain the situation to the professor later, or, better yet, you can tell him ahead of time that you’re still dealing with difficulties and may have to excuse yourself at a certain point during his class time. Believe us, he will understand.
College Students Grieving a Loss Must Take It One Step at a Time
College students grieving a loss need to keep in mind that the easiest way out of grief is through. The 10 tips we’ve presented here will give you a clear blueprint for making that journey. In the meantime, stay safe and best of luck to all of you as you wrestle with the pressures of this pandemic.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]