What is grief?
At Furman, we know that everyone at some point will experience a loss: loss of a loved one, loss from divorce, loss of a job, loss from a move away from home, or loss of good health. It is important to know that grief is individually based and different for every person. There is no single way to grieve. There are no rules or a set timeline when a person will address your emotions. Avoiding the grief process only postpones the healing process. Patience is crucial for the process of grief.
Throughout the healing process, there are emotional, physical and behavioral reactions associated with grief. All of these reactions listed below are normal. It is important to give yourself time and patience as these reactions can be triggered at any time:
- Increased physical illness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increase of substance use
- Loss of motivation
How is grief processed?
Many people are aware of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). In the past, people believed that once a person completed these stages, they would “get over” the grief. Based on new research, we have learned that grief is a process. It is better, therefore, to think of grief as a journey that never ends but changes and diminishes with work over time. We at Furman encourage both an awareness of needs and an action oriented approach to healing.
These are six needs of mourning*:
- Accept the reality of death
- Let yourself feel the pain of the loss
- Remember the person who died
- Develop a new self-identity
- Search for meaning
- Let others help you
ACTION ORIENTED HEALING
An action plan should include both ways to cope with the loss and its emotions as well care options through a support system. The following are starting points for your action plan.
SOME OF THE BEST WAYS TO COPE WITH GRIEF MIGHT INCLUDE:
- Allow yourself to grieve
- Express your emotions in your own way
- Be physically healthy
- Don’t judge yourself or let others judge you for grieving
- Be patient, don’t expect to just “get over it”
- Do something that connects you to who you are
- Reach out for support, you are not alone
- These are just a few options listed below, but it still matters to continue the healing process because only you know what is best for you.
- Keep in touch with friends and family.
- Give yourself permission to grieve and allow quiet time to be alone and reflect on your thoughtsand feelings.
- Consider joining a grief group on campus for additional support.
- Consider getting in touch with the the Trone Center for Mental Fitness counseling services.
READINGS ON GRIEF AND LOSS:
– We Get It: Voices of Grieving College Students and Young Adults
By David C. Fajgenbaum and Heather L. Servaty-Seib
– A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss
By Gerald Lawson Sittser
– Gracefully Gone
By Alicia Coppola, Matthew L. Coppola Sr.
STUDENT GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP OPTION:
Email Alexis Carter Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org for the dates/times each semester.
Be patient, don’t expect to just “get over it”
INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT OPTIONS:
Reach out to family, friends, professors and RA’s., as well as:
- Dr. Vaughn CroweTipton, University Chaplain, email@example.com
- Rev. Alexis Carter Thomas, Associate Chaplain, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Counseling Services at the Trone Center for Mental Fitness, email@example.com, 864-294-3031
- Michelle Wardy, student success, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sarah Tobin, student success, email@example.com
WEB RESOURCE OPTIONS:
BEST WAYS TO HELP A FRIEND COPE
DO’S AND DON’TS TO SAY:
Acknowledging your friend’s loss can help them in their time of need. The support that is given from friends and family is critical for the grieving process*. Here are a few examples of what to say and what not to say to a friend:
- Don’t: “I know what you are going through.”
- Don’t: use clichés, this can minimize the loss and emotions of the grieving person feel such as:
- “Everything happens for a reason”
- “He/she is in a better place now.”
- “You have an angel in heaven.”
- “You need to move on.”
- Do: “I don’t know what you are going through, but I am here to listen.”
- Don’t: Avoid talking about the person who died, it can make your friend feel even more alone.
- Do: Mention the person by name who died and share memories that you had with that person.
- Do: say things that can provide comfort and acknowledge your friend’s loss such as:
- “I am here to listen if you want to talk”
- “It is okay to cry, I may cry with you.”
*From Eight Critical Questions for Mourners by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD. Copyright 2010
*From Actively Moving Forward (AMF) connecting and empowering grieving college students. Copyright 2017.