Because it's your health: Coping with grief

Tip of the Week: Coping with Grief

College students sometimes believe that grief or bereavement doesn't apply to them: some may have never experienced a significant loss in their lives, whereas others may have had so-called "expected" losses such as the death of grandparents. But, all losses have the potential to produce a significant impact, and many students have lost a major relationship in their lives.

As we cope with grief, we are often flooded with intense feelings and are unable to function as usual. It is important to remember that bereavement consists of many emotions. For example, you may feel confusion about the circumstances surrounding the death, anger at the deceased or God, guilt related to "unfinished business" or what you could have done differently (particularly in cases of suicide), and even happiness when reminiscing about the deceased. Other common grief reactions include sleep/appetite changes, difficulties concentrating, unexpected crying outbursts, and increased alcohol/drug use.

Although there is no set pattern or stages of mourning, there tends to be an initial "crisis" period immediately following the loss. This is characterized by intense emotions and disruption to everyday life; feelings of hopelessness and despair are common. As the initial phase abates, there is often an increase in "secondary losses" related to the death.

There are things you can do to facilitate your grieving process:

· First of all, expect that for a while you will not feel or function like yourself.

· Express your thoughts and feelings about your loved one and the impact of the loss; this can help you to process your feelings and to heal.

· Remember positive things about your relationship with your loved one; this is especially helpful for dealing with feelings of guilt.

· Take care of yourself: make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and avoid excessive alcohol/drug use.

· Get professional help if needed.

Remember, there is no "right" way to grieve - "good" grief is whatever works for you.