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Grief at university

University brings many opportunities and joys, but it can also be a rollercoaster with confusing and difficult lows. It can be especially lonely or overwhelming if we’ve lost someone close to us – either earlier in our life or right in the middle of our studies.

Here are some things that might make the experience of grief at uni different to elsewhere:

Moving away from home

Feeling far away from your usual support network and not yet confident in your new environment can be tough. Moving out also comes with a number of responsibilities, such as cooking, cleaning and organising your own schedule – these everyday things can be overwhelming after a loss. Some people feel guilty about being away from home, while others may see university as a welcome distraction and opportunity for a fresh start.

If the loss occurred while at university

If you experience loss during your degree, the uni environment may start to feel overwhelming or sombre, like a constant reminder of what’s happened. The experience may shift the dynamics of your social group and your whole perspective of university life – you may feel unsure how to continue now that everything has changed.

It’s possible to rediscover the fun in university life and build good friendships, even as you grieve, but there are likely going to be tough moments along the way.

Student lifestyle

After a loss, it can be difficult to live up to social expectations as you may have less energy or not be in the mood. You might feel disconnected from your peers and disinterested in the ‘usual’ activities. This can be lonely and frustrating.

For some, a busy social life is a welcome distraction and reminder that life can be good. You may have to rethink what ‘fun’ means to you, but it’s possible to still enjoy student life while you’re grieving.

Academic pressures

Some students throw themselves into their studies as something to focus on, but many students find it hard to motivate themselves and focus. Grief affects our memory and concentration, among other things, so try not to be hard on yourself if your productivity or grades have dropped.

Don’t be afraid to speak to your tutors and look into mitigating circumstances, deadline extensions, or taking time out. Unfortunately the paperwork often feels frustrating and impersonal and some students aren’t supported in the way they would like to be. This is something we are working to change.