Many students on campus lose a close family member, friend or partner. Very often students feel that they must just get over it and move on. They feel the pressures of academic work and try to forget their loss. Often, many people don’t know how to deal with this experience. There is an assumption that after the funeral, the grieving is over. This is very unrealistic as it may take months to years to get over the loss of someone who is close to you.
What can you expect when you’ve lost a loved one?
Everyone experiences bereavement differently. Common responses may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Emotional numbness is often the first reaction – this generally helps you get through the practical needs you may encounter.
- Concentration difficulties and an inability to focus on academic work – often because time is spent on thinking about the person and your loss.
- Avoiding dealing with the loss by immersing yourself in your work to try and forget your loss.
- Feelings of grief, crying and difficulties with coming to terms with the loss.
- Other feelings of strong emotion like sadness and/or anger.
- Questions around the meaning and purpose of life.
- Sleep disturbances such as difficulty with falling asleep, waking often during the night and nightmares.
- Eating difficulties such as the loss of appetite or eating as a form of comfort for the loss.
- Feelings of guilt around the loss. For example “If I only spent more time with him/her…”
What can you do?
- Take time to grieve.
- Talk to friends and/or relatives.
- Allow yourself to cry and talk about your feelings and your loss.
- Avoid people who tell you to “just pull yourself together” or to “just get over it now”.
- Get practical help if you need it. For example if you are battling to focus or study, participate in activities with others like joining a study group.
- Attend appropriate talks or presentations to assist you with your grieving.
If you find that you cannot talk to friends and family about your loss, you may find it helpful to a talk to a professional who will allow you to talk and vent your feelings around your experience.
More info: If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, take a look at: Grief and loss
Wits Student Crisis Line 0800 111 331 (24/7/365)