How to Support a Friend in Crisis
- Reach out and spend time with the person in crisis
- Make time to talk, encourage the person to express his/her feelings, and listen
- Respect the person's need to spend time alone
- Help with everyday tasks where possible: run errands, share a meal, pick up mail, care for a pet, etc.
- Don't try to offer false cheer or "fix things"
- Listen with non-judgment
- Help the person connect with supportive resources on campus and in the community
- Encourage the person to contact CHW Counseling or seek professional help
- Take care of yourself and know your own limits
- Don't tell them that they are "lucky it wasn't worse". Instead, tell them that you are sorry such an event has occurred, and you want to understand, offer your support, and assist them in any way you can
Understanding the Grieving Process
Impact of Loss
When a loved one/classmate is dying or dies, there is a natural grieving process. Recovering from such a loss can be slow and emotionally painful. However, the grieving process can be less painful if you try to understand that loss and grief are natural parts of life. Try to accept the loss and believe that you can cope with tragic happenings. Allow your experience be one of psychological growth that will help you manage future stressful events.
The grieving process usually consists of the following stages. Note that not everyone goes through all these stages.
Denial and Shock
At first, it may be difficult for you to accept the death of a loved one/classmate, and you may find yourself in a state of denial. As you begin to express and share your feelings about death and dying with other students or friends, these feelings will gradually diminish.
During this stage the most common question asked is "why me?". You may be angry at what you perceive to be the unfairness of death, and you may project and displace that anger onto others. When given some social support and respect, you will eventually become less angry, and able to move into the next stage(s) of grieving.
Many people in the grieving process try to bargain with a higher power to try to reverse their loss. In this stage, it is common to offer to give up an enjoyable part of one's life in exchange for the return to health or the life of the lost person.
You may find yourself feeling guilty for things you did or did not do prior to the loss. Forgive yourself and try to accept your imperfect humanness.
Mood fluctuations and feelings of isolation and withdrawal are common during the grieving process. It takes time to gradually return to your old self and become socially involved in what's going on around you.
As you go through changes in your social life because of the loss, you may feel lonely and afraid. The more you are able to reach out to others and make new friends, the more this feeling lessens.
Acceptance does not mean happiness. Instead you accept and deal with the reality of the situation.
Eventually you will reach a point where thinking about your loss will be less painful and you can begin to look ahead to the future and more good times.
Ways to Cope with Death and Dying
- Discuss feelings such as loneliness, anger, and sadness openly and honestly with other students, instructors and family members
- Maintain hope
- If your religious convictions are important to you, talk to a member of the clergy about your beliefs and feelings
- Join a support group
- Take good care of yourself
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Get plenty of rest
- Be patient with yourself. It takes time to heal. Some days will be better than others
Ways to Help a Bereaved Student
- Talk openly and honestly about the situation unless the student does not want to
- Use a caring, conversational tone of voice
- Show that you care
- Listen attentively and express interest in what the grieving student has to say about his/her feelings and beliefs
- Share your feelings and talk about any similar experience you may have had
- Avoid using the phrase "I know just how you feel"
- If symptoms of depression are very severe or persistent and the grieving student is not coping with day to day activities encourage that student to get professional help