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Dealing with Death and Grief

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


As with most crises, dealing with the death of a loved one or friend is an experience that each of us handles differently. Some people will choose to cry; others may want to talk about their feelings; yet others prefer to be alone. Some will use the anger or frustration they feel as motivation for things like schoolwork or self-improvement. But whichever way you choose to deal with the death someone close to you, it is important to know that there are people around you who care and can help.

Dealing with death while at college can be particularly challenging due to the isolation from family members some associate with being away from home. Don't forget, however, that the close proximity of friends can provide the support you need during difficult times. Additionally, take advantage of the resources that colleges provide such as counselors who can give professional assistance for those who need it.

Some things to remember:

  • People are there for you if you need to talk.
  • Tell people what happened and how you feel about it because they can only be supportive if they know what you are dealing with.
  • Be with people - being alone is good in moderation, but we benefit from the comfort others provide.
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Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind, and it is the conflicting feelings caused by a change or end of a familiar pattern of behavior. While grief is normal, natural, and a very powerful emotional experience, it is also often neglected and misunderstood.

Remember that these symptoms are common among people dealing with death and other traumatic experiences and that there are people who can help you. Talk to a psychiatrist, health officials on campus, or anyone you feel comfortable with, especially if you are experiencing feelings of depression or any of the symptoms of PTSD listed below. [ To Top ]

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) shows that some soldiers, survivors of criminal victimization, torture, and other violence, and survivors of natural and man-made catastrophes suffer long-term effects from their experiences. Children who have witnessed violence in their families, schools, or communities are also vulnerable to serious long-term problems. Their emotional reactions, including fear, depression, withdrawal, or anger, can occur immediately or some time after the tragic event, including the time when they are in college. Younger people who have experienced a catastrophic event often need support from parents and teachers to avoid long-term emotional harm. Most will recover in a short time, but the minority who develop PTSD or other persistent problems need treatment.[1]

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • flashbacks
  • nightmares
  • emotional numbing
  • avoidance of any reminders of the person who passed away
  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • problems with peers
  • anti-social behavior
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • physical complaints
  • suicidal thoughts
  • school avoidance
  • academic decline
  • sleep disturbances
  • confusion
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for medical advice from a health care professional.