Resources for Coping with Grief and Loss
Dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one is difficult at any time, but it is especially hard when the death occurs suddenly. The GSU Counseling Center would like to normalize the experience of grief and loss that you may be experiencing and provide resources in case you or someone you know needs support.
What can I expect to experience while I’m grieving?
The truth is that responses to tragedy are different for everyone. The most important thing to remember is that your experience of grief is unique to you. Everyone experiences loss in different ways, including how long it takes for them to deal fully with their grief. Nobody can tell you what kind of grieving is right for you.
That said, some common emotions that occur when you are grieving can include:
- Shock and numbness: being unable to cry, not feeling your emotions
- Denial: not wanting to believe that the event has occurred
- Sadness: feeling tearful, empty, or focusing on the loss in your life
- Anger: being angry with yourself or at others; anger is a normal part of ANY stress but it also very common after a traumatic event
- Anxiety: feeling uncertain about the future, questioning your previously held beliefs
- Shame: wanting to hide your grief from others
- Guilt: feeling somehow responsible for the trauma; feeling as though you are not “as sad” as you “should be”
- For more information, read our online handout, What to Expect When You Lose a Loved-One to a Traumatic Experience
In extreme cases, people who are grieving may feel that they need to physically harm themselves (cutting, burning) in order to express their emotions, or worse, they may have the desire to attempt suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing such extreme emotions or reactions such as these, please contact the University Police Department (UPD) at 912-478-5234.
How do I cope with this loss?
As you deal with your grief, keep in mind that people may have different reactions and emotions than you. There are no right or wrong ways to mourn your loss. The following suggestions can help you process your grief in a healthy way, but you can choose another solution as well.
- EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS with someone else. You can talk to your friends, loved ones, a minister, or a professional. As long as the person is willing to listen to you and to allow you to grieve, then that person will most likely be helpful to you. Do NOT talk to someone who is judgmental, gives you advice, or is otherwise not supportive of your emotional experience.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF by staying hydrated, eating normally, and trying to get sufficient sleep so you have the energy to deal with overwhelming emotions.
- MANAGE STRESS by engaging in activities you find relaxing or hopeful: take a walk, enjoy nature, drink hot tea, play with a pet, read a good book or watch your favorite movie, take a warm bath, hug a loved one.
- PROFESSIONAL HELP is available both at the GSU Counseling Center and in the Statesboro community in general.
- To make an appointment with the GSU Counseling Center, call 912-478-5541.
- Specific services available include:
- To seek resources in the Statesboro community, consult our Comprehensive Referral List.
- If you or someone you know is at risk of self-harm or suicide, immediately contact the University Police Department (if a student) or drive that person to a local emergency room.
How do I help my friends who are grieving?
Don’t be afraid to ask how your friends are coping with loss. Offer to provide support by listening if they want to talk about it, but do not pressure friends to discuss their loss with you if they are not ready.
Generally, we can group ways to help friends into supportive vs. non-supportive behaviors.
- Be supportive
- Ask them what they need and try to accept their answer
- Be curious
- Get comfortable with discomfort
- Don’t feel like you have to “say the right thing.”
- If the person is ok with it, reminisce with them about the deceased
- Cry, storytell, laugh
- Attend/create rituals that help with closure
- Being an “expert”
- Responding too quickly
- Changing the subject
- Talking too much about yourself
- Asking “why” questions
- Giving advice
- Preaching, placating, lecturing
- Asking too many questions
- Interrupting silence
If you are concerned for a friend, offer to accompany him or her to a counseling appointment or contact family members for him/her. If a friend indicates that they are suicidal, contact the Counseling Center (912-478-5541) or University Police Department immediately.
Last updated: 12/23/2016