5 Ways to deal with Grief in College

College is a time of firsts for many, first drink, first dates, first party, first serious relationship. Some firsts are not as exciting. For a majority of students, this time might be where they will experience their first loss. When I was 15, my father passed away. In the beginning, it was incredibly hard, especially being a daddy’s girl. But over time, I learned how to express my emotions healthily,  and now I am in a place where I can comfortably share memories of us that I hold close to my heart.

Grief is never an easy emotion to deal with, but what I’ve learned over time from missing my father can be applied to college years and beyond.

  1. 1. Let it out

    The pain from losing a loved one is indescribable, but what can make it all the more excruciating is trying to bury it. People react in all kinds of ways; a common one is crying. You are not weak from crying. No one in the world should or can judge someone for crying -or not crying- after losing a loved one. Expressing your emotions can be done in other ways, such as art, journaling, exercising, and music. Finding a combination that works for you can help tremendously in your process.

  2. 2. Take time for yourself

    Grief has no time limit, and everyone grieves in their own unique way. I personally thought that taking a week off of school would’ve been enough for me, but when I returned back, I realized that I had made a big mistake and felt as if I rubbed salt in my wound. Some people aren’t going to understand your loss, and that’s ok. You can expect some to be awkward as well. Doing what’s best for you is the utmost priority, so don’t feel guilty about taking the time you need to heal.

  3. 3. Confide with a loved one

    When it comes to a loved one passing, talking to someone who also shared a relationship with them is helpful. Having my brother by my side to mourn my father made everything slightly more manageable. It was comforting to know that someone shared my pain. If not family, try a friend or someone who can relate to that feeling of loss. There is group therapy for those dealing with grief and can help remind you that you are not alone.

  4. 4. “Move on”

    Moving on is subjective. People have this idea that when you “move on,'' you're forgetting about what caused you grief. Just because you are in the process of resuming your life to its previous normalcy does not mean you’re forgetting. Returning to your favorite hobby or class can help you accept what loss was and help you fondly remember someone. Spending time doing activities that help you forget that you’re sad -not why you are sad- can bring hope that over time, your grief will lessen. The loss of a loved one never truly goes away, as it stays with you for life, but it will become easier to deal with overtime.

  5. 5. Acknowledge the bad and the good

    There will be times in your college career, like graduation, where you wish that special someone was there to celebrate with you. Instead of trying to ignore their absence, acknowledge it. Before a big milestone, I would take private time to grieve. I just think about how, yes, I badly wish my father was here to see me and cry a bit. Yet this time also gives me the ability to reflect and think about how proud he would be and remember my favorite memories. Doing this has significantly made my life milestones more joyful than bittersweet as my attention is focused on who is there, without any guilt, making me able to take in the happiness of the occasion.

Where there is life, there is natural loss. But this can be one of the hardest experiences anyone has to go through. With it, though, can come inspiration and feelings of purpose to fulfill our lives. And this, itself, is one of the best ways to honor those no longer with us.