The passing of a loved one is never easy. It’s even worse when it happens during prelim season and a continent away from home. While your family and friends come together at home, you are stuck grieving in your single dorm room and studying at the same time. I lost a cherished member of my family yesterday, and I received the news in between two prelims and a work study shift. My world seemed to stop — I was in so much shock that it took me two hours to finish making a Works Cited page for an essay. I contemplated ignoring my professors, telling my editor that I was just not in the right state of mind to finish an article this week,, switching my phone off, and crawling into bed with the lights off and the blinds closed. After spending the whole day in tears, I began to wonder how many other college students are grieving a loss of a loved one. This led me to draft a list of how to slowly cope with loss in college.
Surround Yourself with Friends
It’s okay to want to be alone or lock yourself in your room at this time, but remember that your friends are here for you. Whether it’s just via text or coming up to your room to spend some time with you for a while, don’t isolate yourself. Getting space is part of grieving, but being around other people might help to remind you that you are not alone.
Walk Around Campus
This is when Cornell’s streams, chipmunks and hills come in handy. Take a few minutes out of your day to walk around Beebe Lake, sit on the slope or explore the Botanical Gardens. Moving is a good distraction while staying in one place may lead you to overthink.
Look at Memes
It is at this time that you need the Cornell meme page, Patrick Star and Spongebob the most. Memes are a good way of lifting the weight off your chest and learning how to laugh again. Facebook and Instagram has an abundance of meme pages that can make you feel a lot better and remind you that everyone else has experienced loss in some way before and survived it.
Your friends and family back home are obviously worried about your well-being during this tough time. Make sure to call home to reassure everyone that you are getting by and to find out how everyone else is doing. Crying over the phone is also part of healing.
Ask for an Extension if Needed
Your professors and TAs have gone through loss too and understand if you need some time to process. Don’t be afraid to reach out, explain your situation, or seek help.
Write A Tribute Post
I was one of those people who felt uncomfortable writing a condolence post on social media. It almost felt as though I was putting my grief up for public consumption. I found that writing a tribute on social media, however, may be a productive way of remembering and journaling what you cherished the most about your loved one. It is also a way for the people in your life to support you and send their condolences.
Beating yourself up about not calling your deceased relative enough or not having said a more meaningful goodbye is unhealthy. There is no adequate way to prepare for death — we all get so preoccupied with our own worlds of test scores, parties, and Sunday brunch that we lose touch with the outside world. Death reminds us to value each precious moment we spend on this earth. Forgive yourself for not knowing how little time you had left with them and remember that your loved one is in a better place. They would want you to enjoy the rest of your semester and succeed.