Experiencing a Loss During College

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Bevis Funeral Home under Dealing with Loss, Grief Support
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Grief is devastating during any time of life, but it can be a particularly heavy burden for college students. College is a lot to handle, as you might be living on your own for the first time. You might be feeling intense pressure to keep your grades up, not to mention having a social life and extracurricular activities. The death of a family member or friend during an already emotional time can feel like too much to bear for many students. If you are going through a loss during college and are struggling to stay afloat, it’s important to know the options and resources that are available to you.  

Take a Leave of Absence

When experiencing a loss during college, many students choose to take a leave of absence. According to Mental Health America, a leave of absence is often provided to college students for medical reasons, after the death of a loved one or for other family emergencies. It’s put into place for students who need to take some time to recover, but who plan to re-enroll at their college or university afterward. 

If you feel that you would benefit from taking a leave of absence after the death of a loved one, the first step is to talk to your school’s administrators. Mental Health America suggests starting with the Dean of Students’ office to learn your school policies on extended absence and get any paperwork you will need to complete. While taking a break might not be the right choice for every student, it can be important for those who need some time to visit their family or just step away to grieve. 

Know Your School’s Policies

Even if you do not take a full leave of absence, it’s important to communicate the situation to your professors. Experiencing a loss during college often means missing classes to visit family or attend a funeral service. Communicate clearly with your professors about why you will be missing class and make sure you understand your school’s policies on class absence. Sometimes these policies are specific to a given professor and will vary by class. 

Most professors will be understanding of your need to miss class, but you must communicate with them in advance of your absence. Letting them know you will be out on a certain day is a courtesy, but mentioning it after the fact might sound more like an excuse.  

Lean on Friends and Family

As with grief during any time of life, it’s important to be open with trusted friends and family when grieving a loss during college. While you might be afraid of burdening those close to you with heavy feelings, talking about what happened is an important part of healing. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends how you really feel when they check in on you. You might even find that your school offers grief support groups where you can connect with other students going through the same thing. 

It’s also perfectly OK to find a balance between your normal social life and taking time alone to grieve. While it’s not a good idea to isolate yourself completely, you might not feel like going out or attending sporting events in the immediate aftermath of your loss. Take your life one day at a time, and let your friends know when attending a large gathering or party is too much for you at the moment. They will understand, and there will be plenty of opportunities to attend these functions later. 

Seek Professional Help

We hope this information is helpful, but please remember that it is not a substitute for the care of a professional trained to help with physical or mental health issues. Thankfully, many colleges and universities offer grief counseling services for students suffering a loss during college. We suggest looking into any grief counseling or other therapy services your school provides to students on campus.  

If you are having thoughts of suicide or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. 

Experiencing a loss during college can be devastating, but seeking help and taking the time you need to grieve can make the burden easier to bear. Remember that this too shall pass, and with time, you will begin to move toward healing.  

Bevis Funeral Home is here to help you through difficult times. Our grief support resources are always available any time you need them. 

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