March: Grief & Loss
The Grieving Student
During the course of their university careers, many students are likely to experience the loss of someone close to them. This may be the first major loss they have had to endure. Sometimes students are dealing with their own life threatening illnesses.
- Listen carefully and compassionately.
- Consider the option of allowing the student to postpone turning in assignments or taking exams.
- When appropriate, if you are comfortable, you can share similar experiences you have had so the student doesn't feel alone or crazy.
- Be on the alert for signs that the student is feeling a need to harm himself/herself as a way to cope with the pain.
- Talk to the student about getting some professional help to deal with the loss. Encourage the student to check out support options such as the Counseling and Testing Center or Campus Ministry for help in the grieving process.
- Don’t be afraid of tears. Tears are a natural, healthy way of releasing emotions.
- Don’t avoid discussing the deceased person with the student. He/she is often grateful to find someone who will listen.
- Don’t say well-intentioned things to the student that might imply the grief is not valid … “It can’t be that bad.”
Please remember to report your concerns about a student's safety, functioning, or well-being to the Needs Assessment Team. Please refer to the page on Recognizing and Assisting Students of Concern for information on emergency and non-emergency concerns.