• Fact Sheet: Grief and Bereavement

    STUDENTS AND GRIEF: LIFE AFTER LOSS

    Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The reasons for grief are many, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the letting go of a long-held dream. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person's life.

    EVERYONE GRIEVES DIFFERENTLY

    Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

    DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOSS

    Feelings of loss are very personal, and only you know what is significant to you. People commonly associate certain losses with strong feelings of grief. These can include:

    • Loss of a close friend
    • Death of a partner
    • Death of a classmate or colleague
    • Serious illness of a loved one
    • Relationship breakup
    • Death of a family member

    Subtle or less obvious losses can also cause strong feelings of grief, even though those around you may not know the extent of your feelings. Some examples include:

    • Leaving home
    • Illness/loss of health
    • Death of a pet
    • Change of job
    • Move to a new home
    • Graduation from school
    • Loss of a physical ability
    • Loss of financial security

    GRIEF CAN BE A ROLLER COASTER

    Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning; the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.

    NORMAL GRIEF REACTIONS

    When experiencing grief, it is common to:

    • Feel like you are "going crazy"
    • Have difficulty concentrating
    • Feel sad or depressed
    • Be irritable or angry (at the deceased, oneself, others, higher powers)
    • Feel frustrated or misunderstood
    • Experience anxiety, nervousness, or fearfulness
    • Feel like you want to "escape"
    • Experience guilt or remorse
    • Be ambivalent
    • Feel numb
    • Lack energy and motivation