Lately, I’ve been dealing with a lot of loss. My friends and I are trying to support each other, but it’s so hard when we’re all experiencing our own kind of grief. And with classes and everything starting, it feels like the rest of the world is just moving on. How do I deal with it all?
-Sorrowful and Unsure
I would like to begin by saying that I am deeply sorry for your loss. Losing anyone close to you is an experience that is so gruelling, and, within that, you sometimes lose sight of yourself. You are so strong—stronger than you even know.
Grief is a response to loss that each and every person undergoes differently. While some people cope by remembering who they have lost and the significance of that person, other people throw themselves into their work to try to avoid the pain. These different methods of coping also mean that people need different amounts of time to recuperate from a loss.
Like most things in life, you should never feel pressured to move at the pace of others. You are different from everyone else, and that means you will adjust on your own time. While grief can consume you and truly take over every aspect of your life, it won’t be that way forever.
Now, let’s get to some advice. Since classes have begun, that is a perfect opportunity for distraction, if that’s something you think will help in your healing process. Remember that distraction and engaging in activities does not mean that you are forgetting—it means that you are adjusting. You can go to class and make your best attempt to focus on the material in front of you. If you can’t do that right away, that is okay too. Taking every new day or task in small increments will allow you to feel comfortable with each new step.
I sometimes like to think about tradition in relation to loss. Someone is only gone when you want them to be. Otherwise, their memory, spirit, and personality will last forever so long as you resurface the memories and love you felt for them every so often. Most people know of Día de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in Mexico. During this day, families and friends gather to celebrate their loved ones who have passed. While this tradition occurs annually, you can incorporate practices from it into your daily routine. Just because someone is gone does not mean that they can not come with you on your journey.
I also recommend trying not to stigmatize the topic. If you’ve lost somebody, talk about it when you are ready. Try not to omit them from conversations out of fear of awkwardness. Both you and them deserve a place in dialogue. At first, hearing their name in conversation will be scary, saddening, and potentially angering, but it will eventually allow you to bring up the topic when you need to.
Additionally, the pressure of school and mental health are bound to accumulate and weight down on you. Remember that you do NOT have to juggle it all, especially not alone. If your mental health is feeling like it is going to collapse when you are trying to support yourself and your friends while dealing with academics, and maybe even athletics too, take a step back. Sometimes situations like these, as horrible as they are, can be an opportunity to reprioritize your commitments. Have you taken on too much? Are there things that do not feel crucial anymore? While you are trying to keep your mind occupied, remember to let yourself rest and take a break too.
Not only is this an opportunity to maybe cut out some parts of your life, this is also the time to indulge in some activities you enjoy. It is perfectly acceptable, encouraged even, to prioritize the parts of your life that bring you happiness. If you like to cook, have a friend bring you to Chidsey Dorm and take advantage of those kitchens! If you like to read for pleasure but have not gotten the chance recently, maybe excuse yourself from an eating house meeting and take the night to yourself.
In the midst of supporting other people and yourself, do not forget to ask for help if you need it.
Told You So
To make an appointment with a counselor at Davidson, whether a regular appointment, emergency appointment, or to reach the on-call counselor, call 704-894-2300.
Other 24/7 emergency options include calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, texting the Text Crisis Line (text HOME to 741741), or calling the Mecklenburg County Crisis (CriSyS) Hotline at 704-566-340 (select option 1).