Grief & Loss

 

1/3 of college students experience the death of someone close to them. One recent study suggests that 30% of college students were bereaved in the past 12 months, and 39% in the past 24 months.  47% of college students had experienced a death in the past 24 months and that almost 20% of them had experienced multiple losses in that time. Student academic performance and engagement was affected by their loss, especially when the deceased was someone close to the student.

Losing a person can be an extremely painful experience - grieving is an unavoidable process that can take weeks or even months.  Some avoid grieving by remaining focused on other aspects of life, which can be functional (particularly if other areas of life require a good bit of attention for success).  

Normal Signs of Grief:

Somatic or bodily distress, preoccupation with the image of the deceased, guilt relating to the deceased or circumstances around the death, hostile reactions, and the inability to function as one had before the loss.

Feelings:

Sadness, anger, shock, denial, numbness, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, yearning, existential doubts.

Physical Sensations:

Hollowness in the stomach, tightness in the chest, tightness in the throat, oversensitivity to noise, a sense of de-personalization "I walk down the campus and nothing seems real, including me", breathlessness, feeling short of breath, weakness in the muscles, lack of energy, dry mouth.

Cognitions:

Disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, sense of presence, hallucinations (often transient illusory experiences often occurring within a few weeks following the loss, and generally do not point to complicated grief -many find these experiences comforting, although they are disconcerting to others).

Behaviors:

Sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, absent-minded behavior, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased (both normal kinds of dreams and distressing dreams or nightmares), avoiding reminders of the deceased, restless over activity, crying, visiting places or carrying objects that remind you of the deceased.

 

Resources:

Grieving - Article on the Effects on College Students

Helping a Grieving Friend

What's Your Grief

Actively Moving Forward (Support and Resources for College Students)

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency or crisis, please contact our office at (304) 333-3661, campus security at (304) 367-4357, or dial 911 for immediate help.