Grief is the emotional pain you feel in response to loss. It manifests differently for everyone—you may feel angry, sad, hopeless, numb, irritable, anxious, unmotivated or any combination of these feelings. Although we typically associate grief with the loss of a loved one, many things can trigger grief, including the end of a relationship or friendship, graduating from school, or experiencing trauma.
The goal of grief is not to “just get over it.” Instead, healthy grieving is about allowing yourself room to accept your loss, experiencing the full range of feelings associated with this loss, adjusting to the changes in your life as a result of this loss, and finding a way to make peace with it. Healthy grieving requires balancing the time you spend working through your grief with the time you spend engaged in your day-to-day functioning—and accepting that this balance is necessary, without feeling guilty (if you feel like you’re not spending enough time grieving) or overwhelmed (if it feels like you can’t stop grieving). There isn’t one single right way to grieve, nor is there a set timeline for grief.
Some things that can help:
- Be kind to yourself—it’s likely you will feel distracted, or tired, and this may result in reduced efficiency. That’s okay.
- Ask yourself what kind of help and support you want from friends and family, and articulate this to them. Just want to sit in silence with a friend and watch Netflix? Okay.
- Figure out what helps you to sleep and eat regularly.
- Set aside a specific private time daily to remember and experience whatever feelings arise with the memories.
- Don’t feel like you have to force anything.
- Talk to someone.
Some things that can make it harder:
- Drugs or alcohol problems often develop in response to an initial stressor. Resist the urge to use substances to avoid coping.
- Don’t judge yourself or others. Everyone grieves in their own way. It’s okay if you express you grief differently than those around you.
- It’s normal and natural to feel guilty, but it’s also unfair to yourself, and a distraction from honoring your loss. Allow yourself feelings of sadness without taking on feelings of blame.
If you are struggling with grief, there are many resources on campus to help. Contact the University Counseling Center for individual counseling, or to get referrals for outside resources. A counselor is on-call to speak with students 24/7, 365 days a year. 504-865-3835. Additional resources can be found here.