When Someone You Love Has Died

Death is never easy to deal with, especially when someone close to you has died. Everyone responds to death differently. Some people need a lot of time before they can deal with the loss; others need to do it right away. Some need to talk a lot; others need to reflect on their own. Everyone’s way of coping is individual. There are many “right ways” to grieve. Some people are very private; others need to talk it through with friends or family. Yours may even seem unusual to others and still be perfectly healthy.

Below are some suggestions for understanding and accepting the death of a loved one. Try any techniques that seem best and most helpful to you. Remember that help is always available at UHS Counseling and Consultation Services.

  • Talk about the person you’ve lost when you’re ready. This tends to be the most helpful remedy for grief. Find someone who is simply willing to listen. Tell them whether you want them to respond or just listen. You might also tell instructors and friends that a death has occurred so that they can be as supportive as possible—this is not asking for favors, just giving others a chance to help and be compassionate.
  • Take care of your body. Get plenty of sleep; eat nutritious, well-balanced meals; and exercise regularly. Avoid alcohol and drugs as much as possible during this time. When taken care of, your body will promote a healthy grieving process.
  • Listen to your body’s emotional needs. If you’re not ready to cry, don’t—if you need to cry, find a safe place to do so. Letting emotions flow is healing, but only when you are in safe circumstances. This may be with others, or it may be by yourself. Remember that your grieving is individual.
  • Write down memories of the person who died. It may seem as if you’ll never forget some aspects of that person’s life, but all memories fade over time, no matter how dear. Look over photos when you are ready. It may be easiest to view photographs, or pieces written by the person who died, in the presence of a family member or close friend. Consider putting together a photo album or scrapbook of the person’s life. This will help your memory later on, and others will also benefit from having this record.
  • Be aware that studying or even staying in school may be difficult. Immediately following a death, many people simply don’t have the motivation to deal with school as well as they usually do. Other people dive into schoolwork in order to cope and do quite well. Do what feels right to you.
  • You may experience a persistent depression that impairs your ability to get your work done. Other difficult emotions may arise as well. All of this is normal, but seek help if it begins to affect school, work, or relationships.
  • Stay involved with your regular friends and activities. This may be hard at first, but it is a reminder that life does go on. Think of how your loved one would like you to be coping right now to gain perspective on your situation.
  • Get support and take care of yourself. There are no magic answers, no quick fixes. Grief is a process that takes its own time. Consider joining the UHS grief support group or another similar group in the community. Many find it helpful to share the experience with others who know what they are going through.

If you have any questions or want to talk it over with us, call UHS Counseling and Consultation Services 608-265-5600 for an appointment, and we’ll work with you to help sort things out.