Grief and Loss

What is Grief?

Grief is a natural emotional response resulting from a significant loss. This process is often in reaction to the loss of a loved one. However, grief can present for a variety of reasons; the loss of a relationship, a major life transition, loss of economic stability, etc. Grief is a natural healing process, and there’s no “right” way to do it. Grief also varies greatly between cultures, people, and situations. 

Common Grief Feelings That Can Occur

Death or loss can be traumatic even if we can anticipate it. So grief can present in a variety of ways. Some of those ways include the follow:

  • Feeling numb or shocked, like you can’t cry or you have no emotions.
  • Feelings of denial, like it didn’t happen, not wanting to believe it occurred. 
  • Feel sad, tearful, empty.
  • Feeling angry or mad.
  • Feeling anxious, scared, like you can’t trust your own thoughts.
  • Feeling guilty, like it’s your fault or that you could have done something to change this outcome.
  • Feeling shame, and wanting to hide that you are having all of these feelings. 

Some Of The Many Types Of Grief

Here is a brief overview of the types:

  • Anticipatory grief: When an individual has knowledge of an impending loss. Typically seen when you have a loved one with a terminal illness. 
  • Typical grief: Grieving that is average in timeline or emotionality.
  • Complicated grief: When the grieving period is extended well beyond the normative, while keeping cultural considerations in mind. Or when the grief is extended and the severity is to the point of causing dysfunction in life. 
  • Disenfranchised grief: Grief that is felt when an individual experiences a loss but others do not acknowledge it or its importance in your life. 

Coping Tips 

  • Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
  • Process your feelings with a therapist or support group.
  • Notice and reflect on your grief triggers so that you can make a plan for when they get activated. 
  • Find support. Call CAPS at 707-664-2153 any time to connect with support. 
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy or distraction.
  • Take care of your basic needs



When Should I Be Concerned?

  • Lasting grief
  • Worsening symptoms of grief
  • The occurrence of or worsening of depression 
  • Overwhelming thoughts of death and/or suicide.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide please call CAPS for immediate support at 707-664-2153. If you are having thoughts of suicide and are unable to keep yourself safe please immediately call 911. 

CAPS is here to support you through this journey. During the academic year, we encourage students struggling with grief to come check in with one of our counselors. We also typically run a grief and loss support group each semester, depending on demand for this service. 

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