You have to find your own path through your grief, but you do not have to walk the road alone

two women walking away in countryside embracing

2nd to 7th December is National Grief Awareness week. If you’re coping with loss, there is support for you at Kent

These past years during the Covid19 pandemic, many will have experienced bereavement, which may have been made more complicated due to restrictions and limitations on our travel and connections with friends and family who could support us in that time. It can be really helpful to take some time to think through the loss of a loved one, and if you’d like to join other students and our counsellor, Anna, there are spaces available on the next Understanding Your Bereavement workshop on 14 December, which focuses on your support system.

What does ‘healthy’ grief look like?

There is no single or right way to grieve. Everyone processes loss in their own way, and at their own pace. Grief can be expressed in many different ways, often with very powerful, frightening and confusing feelings. As well as a deep sadness, you may feel anger, fear, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, despair with the loved one that has died, denial, restless over-activity or apathy. Accept that it isn’t unusual not to feel your ‘normal’ self. Be gentle with yourself for grief is an exhausting thing, and remember that the most intense feelings will pass in time.

How could you help yourself, or a grieving friend or family member?

Talk to others, or be prepared to listen to someone who is coping with bereavement. We can sometimes shy away from painful subjects, but in fact talking about the people we’ve lost and our thoughts and feelings about it can be very healing and help us process a traumatic experience. Remembering happy times with the person who has died can be difficult but also help to get through it and find gratitude for moments shared. Looking at photographs, making a memory book and keeping meaningful mementoes may help.

Writing to remember

The end of a year brings celebration and excitement about new things to come, but it is also a time when we reflect and think about those people we really would like to be able to connect with but can’t. The College and Community Life team have prepared some coloured paper in each College reception where you can write a personal message of rememberance for someone you’re thinking of, and post it anonymously in a box. These will then be collected and strung together inside out to create decorative paperchains to hang in the College; taking our contemplation, difficult feelings or happy memories and joining them with others, transforming them into something that brightens our environment and reminds us we aren’t alone.

Get support

If you, or another student at Kent is trying to cope with bereavement, it may be helpful for them to attend the next Understanding Your Bereavement workshop on 14 December, or seek one to one counselling via Student Support and Wellbeing. For external support for anyone, the charity Cruse provides bereavement support via telephone, chat and resources.

Written by Natalia Crisanti, Student Services staff, on 25.11.21