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Grief and Loss

What is grief

 Grief is a natural reaction to any kind of loss. There are many kinds of loss.

  • Physical - death of loved one, loss of home in fire, loss of body part/function after an accident.
  • Social - breakups, estrangement.
  • Occupational - loss of job, scholarship or graduate school rejection.
  • Opportunity - cut from a team or not accepted into an organization.

Styles of grieving

 It is important to recognize everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is described as a roller coaster ride. You will experience ups and downs and twists and turns.

Some grieve emotionally and express feelings openly. Others grieve by taking on tasks such as organizing a memorial run. Your grief style can be impacted by family and cultural norms. It is important to respect each person's expression of grief. 

How to help cope with grief and loss

Put on your oxygen mask

Just like putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others is important on an airplane, it is important to tend to your own grief response. Give yourself some grace and give others grace too. Friends and family may be struggling to put on their own mask and be unavailable to support you in the way you would like. 

Ways you can care for yourself

  • Practice self-care - be kind to yourself, set realistic expectations, pace yourself, find comfort in your faith, nature and beauty.
  • Support Your Body - attend to basics like eating, sleeping, and getting exercise. In the early phases of grief this may take some effort. Refrain from overindulging in alcohol, shopping or overeating. Pace yourself. Maintain hobbies and interests.
  • Connect With Others - reach out for support, surround yourself with people who love you.

CMU resources

We realize that the academic semester does not stop. When grieving, academic work may be difficult to do.

  • Check the Student Bereavement Policy for more information. Talk with professors about your academic progress and how you can make up your work. Your academic advisor or professor can help you in making decisions regarding options to withdraw, take incompletes, grant extensions and/or have absences excused.
  • Make a Care Report. A Care team member will reach out with supports.
  • CMU Counseling Center offers individual counseling. Also, the Grief and Loss Support Group offers the opportunity for students to meet with other students who are grieving for mutual support and understanding. You do not have to go through this alone.


  • Worden J. Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner. 4th ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 2008

Other resources

What's Your Grief

Grief Out Loud: Teens Talk About Loss

How to Deal with Loss or Grief of a Loved One

5 Things About Grief No One Really Tells You

The Grieving Process: Coping with Death

4 Signs You Are Still Grieving

Coping with Grief: 9 Tips and Activities from a Therapist