When someone suffers a loss, it can sometimes lead to feelings that life is out of control and meaningless. People may deal with the death of a parent, sibling, friend or classmate. An entire campus may grieve the death of a beloved professor or classmate.
Regaining control, meaning and a sense of order may help someone who grieves endure the sadness. Those experiencing grief tend to function better within an already established support system (e.g., family, friends). Grief is a natural process but may become complicated (e.g., the person may become depressed and unable to function), and therefore need some type of therapeutic intervention.
If you’re aware of someone grieving:
1. Seek assistance. The following resources are available to help you.
2. Submit a Care Report.
- Ask if the person wants to talk about the death.
- Support any type of reaction (e.g., some people may not cry, but feel guilty about this; others may feel that constant crying is “not normal”). Grieving takes many forms.
- Listen carefully. This can help a person gain an understanding of his/her feelings and clarify options for dealing with them.
- Encourage the person to be with family and friends, which may mean taking time away from the university.
- Recognize that spiritual and religious doubts can be triggered and are normal; if it seems appropriate, suggest talking to a religious leader.
- If appropriate, you may suggest ways the person can give meaning to the event by memorializing the person who died (e.g., planting a flower or tree; writing a letter/poem/eulogy; creating a memory book; making a quilt, etc.).
- Be aware that family may be urging the person to stay at school or work, even though the person longs to be at home (particularly with the death or imminent death of a parent).
- Assume you know how the person is feeling. Avoid saying, “I know how you feel.”
- Feel pressure to “say the right thing” or break silences. Your support is a comfort.
- Force discussion about death and loss.
- Minimize the loss.
- Judge the person’s response to death.
Submit a Care Report