Hello friends. This morning I lost one of the most influential women in my life, my grandmother. I originally wrote this post when my great grandmother passed away earlier this year, and I am updating it now with my most recent loss during this school year.
These losses made me realize that a lot of college students go through some type of loss during their four years in college. It can be really tough to lose someone when you’re trying to deal with classes and the stresses of college. Here are my tips for dealing with loss during your college years.
The most important things to do is tell your professors as soon as possible. It isn’t fun to type out those emails right after losing a loved one, but it is vital! 99% of the time, your professors will understand. They’re humans too, and they know what you’re going through. The first thing you need to do when you learn something has happened is email all of them. Let them know what happened, and ask them to be prepared for you to miss sometime in the next two weeks for the funeral. Even if you don’t know the date for the funeral, letting them know early will help them be lenient later on.
It is a rare occasion that a professor will not let you leave, even during a final. If they are being uncooperative, try emailing the head of the department and see what your options are. There is no time when school should come before the loss of a family member. Most schools have a bereavement policy ranging from two – five days based on the closeness of the relation. Professors have to comply with that policy, so don’t worry about missing.
Loss is always difficult, but it can be especially hard in college because you don’t have your friends and family around you. If you go to school close by, I would recommend driving home and spending the night with your family. If you live more than a few hours away, try skyping or calling someone from home. You don’t have to talk about what happened, but it’s still nice to see a friendly face. Try not be alone. Everyone deals with loss in their own way, so do whatever works best for you.
Use the resources your school provides. Most universities will have some type of counseling center that provides free services to students. There might be some difficulty with getting an appointment quickly. If that happens, don’t hesitate to tell them what is going on. If that doesn’t help, there are many private practices that are covered by insurance. There are also lots of grief therapy websites if all else fails – in addition to therapy hotlines (like the ones found here.
Don’t be afraid to break down. Grief is not something you can control. If you are in the middle of class, and you suddenly can’t take it, leave. Your professor will understand. An in-class discussion about life and death triggered me the day after my grandma passed, and I had to excuse myself for a little while to calm down. The professor was totally understanding and didn’t mark me down for it or embarrass me in front of the class.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. The person you lost would not want to see you down in the dumps and letting yourself fall to the wayside. Get the help you need. If you lost someone like a parent, you might need to take time off school. Your school will almost always comply and help you out. You can take a semester off and come back when you feel ready. As much as I felt like laying in bed all day and crying, I knew my grandmother would not be happy with that, so I pulled myself up and took care of myself. Remember, however, not to push yourself too far. If you don’t feel okay to go out for a few days, that’s fine. Move at your own pace as you work through the grief.
Losing someone you love is incredibly hard and can often make you feel like giving up. However, with proper grief management techniques, it doesn’t have to destroy your college career. Following these tips will help you both deal with your loss and continue doing well in college. Thank you for reading, and I hope these tips can help some of you get through this difficult time, I know writing it helped me work through just a little bit of my pain.