Health Topics

Grief and Loss

Grief is a normal human response to loss but it can be difficult to navigate, especially as a student. A recent study found that about one-third of the participating students reported at least one death among their families or friends and approximately 60% of interviewed seniors had lost at least one family member or friend since the end of their first year in college (Cox, Dean & Kowalski, 2015). Grief can impact your mood, your social life, your health, appetite, sleep and energy levels, and your ability to focus on academics. You may feel a range of emotions including sadness, anger, guilt, relief, or numbness. Grief may bring financial, practical, or social challenges as you find your way in a changing world. Many grieving students feel torn between conflicting impulses. You may feel pressure to get back to “normal” by studying or spending time with friends at the same time that you feel drawn to looking at photos of the person you lost, listening to music you shared, or being alone and crying. What’s more, every loss and every grieving person is unique.

If you have experienced a loss resulting in an absence from class, there are options. Undergraduates should refer to the absence policy. Graduate students should work with their departments. In addition, the Office of the Dean of Students can notify faculty on your behalf.

If you have experienced a loss, CAPS can help. CAPS offers individual therapy, referrals, and an on-campus Grief Group: Living with Loss for students. 

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