Dealing with a Loss in the Family
A loss in the family, unexpected or otherwise, can happen anytime, including during post-secondary. There are many different ways to help cope with the loss, just as there are ways to grieve. All of these following tips are suggestions – try to find the best way that helps you.
There are usually five steps in the process of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some people jump steps, and others repeat steps. There are many different ways to mourn the loss in your family. None of them are “right”. One thing that is ultimately true about loss, is that it takes time to heal from it.
In the case of school, you may need to consider things like:
- If there’s an essay, paper or group project coming down the line, let your professor know that you’re going to need some time. This depends on the professor, but you can get 24 to 48 hour extensions at times. Do not abuse this privilege, and explain the situation: that there’s been a loss in the family and you need some time away from your schooling. This can also be explained if you have to travel a fair amount of distance to attend a funeral.
- Exams are a little different and complicated: you should speak to your proctor or the person who is supervising your exams. You will most likely still have to write these exams, but they will understand if you do a little worse than usual as a result.
- For general classes, let the professor know that you will be absent, and arrange from a friend or a classmate if you can borrow the notes from the classes you missed. It’s best to get at least two classmates so you can get a combination of notes and get the best notes possible for the class(es) you missed.
For help with coping:
- Seek comfort with another family relative, a friend or roommate; or your student advisor.
- Know when you cannot work on schoolwork or otherwise, and manage your time wisely. (Sometimes it can help to get your mind off things for a few hours.)
- Allow yourself to cry – it’s perfectly healthy. You’re dealing with a loss, and you’re going to miss them a great deal.
The point is: you will always miss them. But it can help to know how you can also help yourself, through grief, and through your current studies.
Remember that this is a part of life. Not a pleasant one, but a normal and natural one. There’s nothing wrong with needing help at times like this.
There are no right answers here. It’s happened to almost everyone, and while people can offer advice and support (and that’s a good thing), remember that it’s happened to friends and family too, and you will get through it. Trust yourself and your feelings.