Losing someone is never easy regardless if it is a parent, friend, or grandparent. If you are lucky, you may not deal with these tragedies for a long time. However, it is an unfortunate fact of life that the more people you love and the longer you live the more you will have to cope with loss. Everyone may do this differently. Some may cry for hours or may not stop crying for days; others may never cry at all. The only wrong way to grieve is to do so in a self-destructive or unhealthy fashion. Dealing with a loss in college can be especially difficult, not only are you stressed from your busy schedule, but you may also feel isolated by your loss. So how do you grieve when no one else around you realizes what is going on? You talk.
Talk to your professors. Odds are, if you need a day to grieve or need a few days to travel home for time with your family, they will understand. No one is impermeable to loss. It is likely they have lost a loved one as well and will recognize why you need time away. Being honest with your professors that you are grieving a death does not make you weak nor does it imply you are asking for special treatment. In addition, many schools have policies related to such cases, which may allow you to miss up to a week, sometimes more, depending on the situation. To research and receive help navigating these policies, contact your Dean of Students office.
Talk to your friends. Those who love you will sympathize with the pain you are feeling. Tell those funny stories that you forgot about for so long. No one ever truly dies until their name and their life is forgotten; keep them alive in your words and actions. While it can be hard at first to even think of them, your stories will ensure that they never leave you. It is okay to laugh. It is okay to chuckle with your friend as you reminisce of the time your great grandmother commented on how cute her male nurse was. Your loved ones would want you to; they would want you to enjoy life and smile. Live for those who cannot enjoy the life that you have, and, when you can, eat dessert first.
Talk to a professional. Many universities now offer mental health services for their students at no additional cost. These usually do not require you to go through insurance, which adds another level of confidentiality. Even if you just go to the office to cry or to share the harder-to-tell stories out loud, that is okay. The cathartic release can be just as rewarding to your mental health as any other coping mechanism. Seeking out professional help is not a sign of weakness. The stigma of getting mental help is fading with every new person who help they need. Do not be afraid of the resources you need to heal.
Losing a loved one in college is never an easy thing, but it does get easier, and you will survive it. Taking the time to grieve may seem overwhelming and make you feel like you will never catch up but more people than you realize have been where you are right now. The kindness and understanding of others can never be underestimated. Speak! No wounds can heal if they are trapped away, you must let them out into the open air. So get help where you need it. Whether it be asking a professor for an extension, asking a friend to talk, or asking a professional for help, these will all help you heal from your loss.
I am Morgan Dunham. I am 21 years old and currently studying History at High Point University with a minor in Psychology. When I am not working you will usually find me drinking tea and binge-watching Gilmore Girls for the eighth time.