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Coping with Death While Away at College

Freshman year, I dealt with the death of my uncle a couple months into my first semester and it hit me hard. I felt guilty for just continuing on my seemingly unaffected life at school while the people I love suffer. I felt selfish, scared, helpless, overwhelmed and sad all at once, and all of these emotions left me uncertain of where to turn. What made matter worse was that I was also struggling to find my place at school. Because I didn’t have many friends at school then, I kept everything bottled up. I didn’t tell anyone that my uncle had passed and because of this I silently struggled to keep it all together. Luckily, I did turn to my family and long-distance boyfriend John for the much-needed support. And because of them, I stayed sane and overcame my grief. I love them all dearly for everything they have done and continue to do for me and I can never thank them enough.

College can feel like an empty and confusing place, especially when family tragedies happen. What I learned through all of this is that there is no wrong way to react. You cannot help the emotions you feel, but the important thing is that you work through them in productive ways. Seek comfort from those you trust, whether that is your family, friends or a trained professional. Looking back, I wish I taken advantage of the services SLU provides through their counseling center located on the second floor of Wuller Hall. Through those ten free sessions, maybe I could have benefited from the advice of an objective party on how to work through my grief as well as deal with the transition into college itself.

Unfortunately, your life back home does not get put on hold just because you are away at school. No one can predict if or when these tragedies will happen. Sometimes, they come out of the blue and hit you like a brick wall. But when they do, it’s important to remember that you are strong enough to get through anything that you are faced with. Take care of yourself, tell your friends and family that you love them, and know that you are never selfish for doing what is best for you. Whether your version of self-care consists of immersing yourself in schoolwork or staying in on a Friday night to binge your favorite movies, your mental state will thank you.

Breakfast sandwich enthusiast, dog lover, and writer for Her Campus at Saint Louis University. 
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