Dear Those Who Are Grieving

In support of University Mental Health Day on Thursday 5th March, this week, the Her Campus Nottingham team are writing content on the topic of mental health to help raise awareness of mental health in higher education.

*the following article contains themes which some readers may find triggering. Please read with caution.


Recently, a close family friend of mine passed away. Grieving has been a completely new experience for me, and one that had the potential to be very isolating and scary. So, I thought I would write down some advice for anyone who is currently grieving a loved one. 


With it being University Mental Health Day this week, I thought this could be of some comfort to those who are perhaps going through something similar, because of the strain grief can have on your mental health. 


 Embrace the sadness. 

I know, this seems bizarre to say. But ultimately, you’re going to be sad after such awful news. It isn't something that can be avoided. Of course, it can be delayed by busying yourself with other things and not letting your mind focus on it. But eventually, this news will catch up with you and seep in. You’ll sit down for a while and contemplate, hopelessly trying and come to terms with it. And you’ll be sad, because it is sad. It is a sad time for you and your family, and I’ve learned trying to be positive doesn't always help. It can almost feel offensive to the person you’ve lost. So, my advice is, don't be scared to be sad for a while – it isn't permanent, it's temporary, and just part of the process. Have a good cry in your car. Let it out. Hug everyone you need to. You may not want to talk about it, that’s fine, but it is okay to feel it. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to be happy again one day. 


Be patient with yourself. 

I kept getting very frustrated with my mind and how I was feeling. Why can’t I feel better yet? Why is my head so all over the place? Why can’t I concentrate on something else for a while, why do I keep thinking about this? His parents are feeling a pain incomparable to what I’m feeling, so why do I keep making this about me? But I have come to understand that that isn't how grief works. It isn't like a set amount is dedicated to everyone, with the most going to those closest to him and the least going to people who never knew him. It isn’t quite that simple. I am sad and gutted for his parents. I am sad for my brother who has lost a close friend, I am sad for my mum whose best friend has lost her only son. I am sad because it is sad. So again, give yourself a break and let yourself be sad for a little while. Be patient. 


Keep up with your hobbies as best as you can. 

I know this sounds easier said than done, and of course if you need time off, take it. Don’t force yourself. But I have found when something happens that’s completely out of your control, it helps to try and maintain control of the things that you can. Live your own life. Even if it is as simple as buying the book you've been wanting to read for ages. Or going to the gym a couple times a week. Or even going for a walk with your dogs. Just do things that remind you that everything is okay, you’re still here, living, and you will be happy again soon. 


 It’s okay to go off your phone for a while. 

I kept getting angry with friends I was chatting to, just because quite simply their lives go on. They haven't been stopped in their tracks by such horrid news. And it infuriated me and made me feel lonely because they just didn't get it. And I didn't want to make them sad either, so I didn't want to talk about it to people who didn't already know. Instagram stories were annoying me because I don’t care what you're having for breakfast or what colour wallpaper you're trying to choose, it didn’t matter, someone I know has died and nothing else matters – that was how I felt. It was temporary, now I do actually want to know about all of those things again! But I did need some time away from all of that. And that’s okay, just go off the grid for a while and spend time with your family. 


And remember – you will be okay.