Tips for Going Back to College After a Death

Ginger Abbot

Apr 26, 2023
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Returning to school or work after experiencing a death can be difficult for anyone. As a college student, you have many responsibilities to handle at the best of times — facing a return to your education after losing someone close to you may be overwhelming.

Between 35% and 48% of college students have experienced the death of a loved one in the last two years. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you transition back to college while grieving. You don’t have to do it alone — your school is there to offer support when you need it.

Communicate With Your Professors

As you return to classes, it’ll be necessary to communicate with your professors. If you took a few days or weeks off, you may have missed assignments, readings and other important class details. Talk to your teachers about how you can get back on track.

Your professors, TAs and other educators are here to support your education and ensure you get the most out of your college experience. That includes working with you in difficult circumstances. You might be able to work out a unique arrangement to make up assignments.

Professors can also help connect you with campus resources, like counseling services.

Get in Touch With Campus Counselors

While an academic advisor can offer much-needed guidance in and out of class, counselors have professional training to help students as they navigate the grieving process while attending college.

Whether you’ve lost a parent, sibling, grandparent, friend, or another loved one, experiencing a death can make it hard to focus on your daily routine. You might lose interest in your classes or struggle with sad and exhausting feelings. When you visit a counselor or therapist at the campus health or wellness center, they can help you come up with coping strategies to address any struggles you’re dealing with.

Join a Bereavement Support Group

Grief can be isolating, especially once you go back to college and try to rejoin your typical routine. While your friends are there for you, they may not understand what you’re going through.

Connecting with peers who have also experienced loss can make you feel seen and heard at a difficult time. You might find it helpful to talk openly about your loved one and what your grief feels like.

There might be a grief support group of fellow students on your campus. If not, you can find another local bereavement group nearby or connect with an online community for support.

Take a Break

Everyone deals with grief differently. For some people, it might be necessary to take a longer break from college after a loss. There’s no shame in taking a semester or a year off while you adjust to life without a loved one and find your direction. You can talk to your advisors about your options for stepping away and what you’ll do during the break.

Find Support at College After a Loss

If you’ve lost a close friend or family member, going back to college after their death can be a challenge. Remember, you’re not alone and your community is there to support you. Take advantage of the resources available as you grieve and begin your healing process.

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