Dealing with Death and Grief

Dealing with Death and Grief

Always, for all of us, the death of someone close is an event of great significance and long-lasting impact. Our lives change sharply or subtly, and for a time our thoughts and feelings are confused.

No two of us react in quite the same way, so that it is not surprising if we feel alone and isolated in our grief. Our emotions may be volatile, and our feelings contradictory. Grief may bring great sadness at the loss of someone central to our lives. Perhaps we are angry - rationally or not - that someone whom we cared for has 'left us'. We may feel guilty that somehow we did not 'do all that we might have'. Conversely, we may feel relief that the individual is at last at peace and finally free of suffering.

We may push the situation from our minds and appear to be untroubled. Or perhaps it will be hard to put the death out of our minds. Our appetite may be affected. We may sleep more or less than we used to. The fact that every member of the human race must face the death of individuals close to them and go through similar situations does not seem to reduce our pain.

Our good friends may be confused and unsure how to respond. Should they go on as though nothing has changed, or should they be solicitous of our needs? And how should we in turn respond to these various overtures and reactions? Is there a "right way" to mourn?

The world does not wait for us to adjust. Many details call out for attention - some of great importance - even as ordinary, day-to-day routines persist. Fortunately, no one at Brown has to face these difficult times alone. Many individuals with experience and training are ready to help those who are grieving.

Our office, Psychological Services has counselors and therapists available to discuss immediate and longer lasting issues. Referrals are also available to community resources. It is important to remember that not all reactions to loss are immediate and that reactions do not always seem clearly connected to a particular loss.

The Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life host a weekly Breavement Group in the University Chaplain's office. This group is comprised of students who have experienced the death of someone else. Members have the opportunity to discuss their grief with others who have had similar experiences. Contact the Chaplains' office at 863-2344 for more information. Check the Office of the Chaplain's website (link above) or call 863-2344 for the current semester's meeting time and location.

The Deans of the College encourage any student who has experienced a loss to meet at least once with an academic dean. Sometimes a student will miss classes or be unable to complete work as scheduled. The deans are able to offer reasssurance, to consult with faculty members and to assist with short- and long -term educational planning.