Grief is a consuming emotion, and it robs us of joy, faith and patience. It can be a response to losing someone to death or illness, getting laid off, or moving to a new country that is unfamiliar. It is a deeply personal experience, and it can often feel isolating. But according to the research conducted by David E. Balk, who has co-authored 66 publications in the field of Grief and Coping (psychology), approximately 22-30% of college students report experiencing the death of a close friend or family member at any given time. There’s some relief in knowing that you are not alone in your pain.
There’s often this stigma that surrounds grief. A person is expected to “move on” and this can lead to unintentional pressure. Those who are mourning can feel shame and will hide their true emotions to be socially acceptable.
Grief is not something that can be rushed and it should not be viewed as a sign of weakness. It is important to be kind to ourselves and others and remember to hold space for grief. Often all a person is looking for is a safe space for them to share their feelings. One can find people going through similar hardships in trusting friendships, family members or by attending group therapy sessions on campus.
Grief can also affect academic performance. A study by the American College Health Association found that college students who experienced a significant loss are more likely to have lower GPAs and drop out of school. When a student is dealing with so many emotions, schoolwork can seem trivial, and they may lack the focus and the energy needed to finish a task.
IU has resources on campus for students to access when they need more support. For example, CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) provides three free counseling sessions. Students can also submit a care referral request to the university on behalf of anyone who might need additional support, themselves included. The university will typically reply in 48 hours with resources that can best help the situation.
As Patrick Droney sings in his song “Glitter,” “See grief, it’s just like glitter/ It’s hard to brush away.”
It may be difficult right now to believe that you will be okay. But with time, you’ll find hope again, and it won’t hurt so much. Sometimes people rediscover their long-lost hobbies or passions and find a way to express their feelings through art. Others try to find peace in being one with nature by signing up for hikes and watching sunsets. One may also find comfort in spending time with their friends, genuinely laughing and having a good time. There’s no one solution that fits all when it comes to grief – you need to find one that works for you.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear,” C.S. Lewis once said.
So — while it’s okay to be scared — don’t be afraid to reach out for help and let people in sometimes.
Sanjana Jairam (she/her) is a first-year graduate student studying data science.