College Life and Mourning
Being in mourning is one of the most difficult periods a person can go through. In the last two years, over half the country has been touched in some way by mourning, myself included. Losing someone you love is heartbreaking. In the non-stop world of Zoom, Skype and Webex, it’s hard to pause your life and properly mourn the person you lost. For students and professionals, taking even one day to do so could set you back way behind your schedule. I struggled with this very recently with the passing of my grandmother. Knowing that many people are experiencing the same grief as I am I wanted to share three ways I found that helped me cope with the stress of college life/working life while mourning:
Communicate with the people around you. Talking to other people about what you’re experiencing can be a difficult challenge. Grief isn’t an emotion that can be ignored but it’s easy to mask if you try hard enough. In the college world, it is hard to be the person that is going through loss. You don’t want to ruin the mood of your friends, since they are students as well who have their own unique set of struggles, so you mask your feelings and choose not to talk to people who care about you. Masking your grief can do more harm than good; internalizing it and letting it consume you can lead to more pain in the future. Talk to the people who care about you. Even a simple text about how you’re feeling that day can lessen the weight of life.
Accept that you’re human. It’s hard to admit when you need a break, even when you’re not going through grief. People often pile on projects in order to avoid feeling the complex emotions that arise from the passing of someone close. This distraction is a temporary relief since the non-stop work can burn you out. Instead of letting yourself burn out, give yourself permission to heal. Our relationships with the ones we love make up who we are, so it's not an easy task to simply move on from that experience. Allow yourself to feel that grief and understand how to continue your life without the presence of the person you lost.
Make you the priority. Making yourself the priority can often be seen as a selfish act. In the face of trauma, putting yourself first will allow you eventually reach a place where you can support others. Turning down social invitations, letting yourself sleep in, or taking a personal day from school or work shouldn’t make you feel guilty. You are giving yourself time to repair and return to who you are.
As you learn to build yourself up back from grief, remember every special moment you had with the person you lost and appreciate what you both were able to give to each other in life.