Mourning In College

"Death is the farthest away from what we are, and when it comes so close, and we realize how close such an opposite can be, it is the most terrifying confusing thing on the planet."  - L. Horwitz

Loss is one of the most difficult things to deal with in life. It never gets easier and it is always hard, but what happens when you lose someone while in the pressured world of higher education?

Caring about grades is difficult. Getting out of the house (hell, your bed) seems impossible. Seeing others go about their business as if they did not realize that there has been an immese loss to the world, is both irrational and infuriating. Example: You overhear someone in line for coffee complain about the limitations of the post modern critique and you explode into an internal diatribe of rage because WHO F*CKING CARES ABOUT THAT?! MY GOD DAMN FRIEND IS DEAD SO PLEASE SHUT UP ABOUT THIS SH*T THAT DOESN'T MATTER YOU STUPID C*NT!!!! This makes you start crying because anger begat sadness and now you need a place to hide and sob. The college campus is ripe with elements that provoke bursts of weeping (like the one mentioned above), but also has spaces to let it all out. I reccomend the handycap bathroom stall on the top floor of Raitt hall. The vast, tree-filled campus of the University of Washington can also foster a sense of peacful anonymity when you need to be by yourself, but not alone. Benches on the quad are a nice place to sit and think, as are the stacks in Suzzallo/Allen. I would not suggest the Suzallo reading room because the emphasis on silence in there is not condusive to gasping tears that were brought on by a meaningful song that popped up in shuffle. The trick is to be aware of lurking emotional threats, accept them, and find a place to do what you gotta do (cry/hug/look at facebook/sit in silence/be part of a crowd.) 

In the olden days greif was a very public process. Women wore mourning costumes and displayed how they were feeling through their dress. In today's society  it is harder to pick up if someone is in emotional distress by the way they look. It's unclear why someone wore sweatpants for the past two weeks or why their eyes are all red and puffy. It could be a lot of things (Weight gain? Insomnia? Allergies? Drugs?). Things would be much easier if it were socially acceptable to wear visual markers of the pain you're in. Conversely, the internet has opened up a whole new avenue to let people know what you're going through.Whether you change your status, profile picture, or write a note on your loved one's wall, expressing how you feel online can be helpful. It's surprising, even heartwarming, to see an outpour of support and love from others who share your pain.

The last thing I want to talk about is the classroom:

  1. Grades are not that important, but they are kind of important. Do not worry about your GPA this quarter, but do what you can.
  2. Talk to your professors. Letting them know what is going on is a million times better than not saying anything and letting them think you don't come to class because you love Tipsy Tuesday/Wasted Wednesday. They have probably experienced what you are feeling and will understand.
  3. If you start tearing up in class, do not be afraid to step out for a minute. Your peers, like your professor, will understand. And if they don't they can rot in hell.