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Grief and Loss Support
for College Students
1
COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES (CAPS)
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
2
“THE WORK OF GRIEVING IS THE HARDEST
WORK THERE IS. IT IS LONELY, SICKENING AND
EXHAUSTING. GRIEF IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR
LOVE. IT IS THE HIGHEST PRICE.”
- RABBI EARL GROLLMAN
Why is this topic important on campuses?
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 About one in three
college students
experiences the death
of a family member or
close friend each year.
 Geographic distance
from home and usual
support systems,
academic pressures,
and inadequate peer
support and empathy
can make grief during
college particularly
difficult.
 Grieving college
students are at
greater risk than
their peers for a host
of physical,
academic, social,
developmental, and
emotional issues.
Students commonly
report feeling alone,
helpless,
unsupported, and
like no one “gets it.”
Terms to Know
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GRIEF: THE EMOTIONAL PROCESS OF REACTING
TO THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE THROUGH DEATH.
THE FOCUS IS ON THE INTERNAL PROCESS OF
THE INDIVIDUAL. NORMAL OR COMMON GRIEF
REACTIONS MAY INCLUDE COMPONENTS SUCH
AS NUMBNESS AND DISBELIEF.
ADAPTED FROM: NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE,
HTTP://WWW.CANCER.GOV/CANCERTOPICS/PDQ/SUPPORTIVECARE/BEREAVEM
ENT/HEALTHPROFESSIONAL/PAGE7
Terms to Know
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BEREAVEMENT: THE OBJECTIVE SITUATION ONE
FACES AFTER HAVING LOST AN IMPORTANT
PERSON VIA DEATH.
MOURNING: THE PUBLIC DISPLAY OF GRIEF;
WHILE GRIEF FOCUSES MORE ON THE INTERNAL
EXPERIENCE OF LOSS, MOURNING EMPHASIZES
THE EXTERNAL OR PUBLIC EXPRESSIONS OF
GRIEF.
ADAPTED FROM: NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE,
HTTP://WWW.CANCER.GOV/CANCERTOPICS/PDQ/SUPPORTIVECARE/BEREAV
EMENT/HEALTHPROFESSIONAL/PAGE7
How does grief affect people?
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MIND, BODY, & SPIRIT
Mind
-D E P R E S S I O N
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-S A D N E S S
-A N X I E T Y
-N U M B N E S S
-H E L P L E S S N E S S
-A N G E R
-G U I L T
-F R U S T R A T I O N
-D I S T R A C T I O N
-Y E A R N I N G
-E M A N C I P A T I O N
-D E P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N A N D / O R S O C I A L W I T H D R A W A L
-O B S E S S I O N W I T H D E A T H A N D T H E D E C E A S E D
-D I S B E L I E F A N D / O R C O N F U S I O N A B O U T T H E D E A T H
-A B S E N T - M I N D E D N E S S
SOURCE: GRIEVING HOW TO GO ON LIVING WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES
BY THERESE A. RANDO, PH.D.
Joan Didion Quote
The Year of Magical Thinking
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“THE POWER OF GRIEF TO
DERANGE THE MIND HAS IN
FACT BEEN EXHAUSTIVELY
NOTED.”
Body
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-S T O M A C H H O L L O W N E S S
-T H R O A T T I G H T N E S S
-C H E S T T I G H T N E S S
-O V E R - S E N S I T I V I T Y ( I . E . T O L I G H T , T O U C H , F O O D )
-B R E A T H L E S S N E S S
-M U S C L E W E A K N E S S
-L A C K O F E N E R G Y - F A T I G U E
-D R Y M O U T H
-S L E E P D I S T U R B A N C E S
-A P P E T I T E P R O B L E M S
-C R Y I N G
SOURCE: GRIEVING HOW TO GO ON LIVING WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE DIES
BY THERESE A. RANDO, PH.D.
Joan Didion Quote
The Year of Magical Thinking
10
“GRIEF FREQUENTLY LEADS TO CHANGES IN THE
ENDOCRINE, IMMUNE, AUTONOMIC NERVOUS,
AND CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEMS; ALL OF THESE
ARE FUNDAMENTALLY INFLUENCED BY BRAIN
FUNCTION AND NEUROTRANSMITTERS.”
Spirit/Spirituality
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-WHEN CONFRONTED WITH DEATH, WE CANNOT PRETEND IT
ONLY HAPPENS TO OTHERS WHEN SOMEONE WE KNOW AND
LOVE NO LONGER EXISTS IN A BODY ON THIS EARTH
-TO EXAMINE WHAT WE BELIEVE AND WHAT WE DO NOT
BELIEVE IS NORMAL/COMMON
-IT IS NORMAL/COMMON TO MENTALLY TAKE APART ONE'S
RELIGIOUS AND/OR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS
SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.HELPWITHGRIEF.ORG/OVERVIEW_OF_GRIEF.HTML
Spirit/Spirituality
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-IT IS ALARMING TO SOME THAT THEIR FAITH OR
SPIRITUALITY, WHICH PERHAPS PROVIDED
COMFORT IN EARLIER TIMES, NO LONGER MEETS
THAT NEED WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
-THIS SITUATION COULD BE MADE WORSE WHEN
OTHERS CONTINUE TO SUGGEST THAT FAITH OR
BELIEF IN SOMETHING OR SOMEONE WILL MAKE
EVERYTHING BETTER
SOURCE:
HTTP://WWW.HELPWITHGRIEF.ORG/OVERVIEW_OF_GRIEF.HTML
Supporting Grieving Peers
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COMMUNICATE TO YOUR PEER THAT YOU WANT TO BE A
PART OF THEIR GRIEVING PROCESS AND THAT YOU ARE
COMFORTABLE LISTENING TO THEIR PAIN
REMEMBER THAT GRIEF TAKES TIME (YEARS) TO LEARN TO
LIVE WITH AND NEVER GOES AWAY, SO BE THERE FOR
THEM IN THE DAYS AS WELL AS WEEKS, MONTHS, AND
YEARS FOLLOWING THE DEATH.
ENCOURAGE YOUR PEER TO OPEN UP ABOUT THEIR
GRIEVING PROCESS WITH FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND OTHERS
WHO HAVE GRIEVED DURING COLLEGE.
SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.STUDENTSOFAMF.ORG/SUPPORT -YOUR-FRIEND/
Supporting Grieving Peers
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ENCOURAGE YOUR PEERS TO REMEMBER THEIR DECEASED
LOVED ONE(S) THROUGH SERVICE TO OTHERS OR AN
ACTIVITY THAT THE DECEASED ENJOYED.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN’T TAKE AWAY THEIR PAIN, BUT
YOU CAN LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE.
IF THE PERSON WHO IS IN GRIEF IS SUICIDAL, REFER
THEM TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL AT
COUNSELING AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES (CAPS) AT
415-422-6352 AND PUBLIC SAFETY AT 415-422-2911.
SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.STUDENTSOFAMF.ORG/SUPPORT-YOUR-FRIEND/
Supporting Grieving Peers
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EMPATHIZE WITH THE PAIN HE/SHE IS GOING THROUGH — JUST
KNOWING THAT YOU ARE THERE FOR SUPPORT WILL BE AN
IMMENSE SOURCE OF STRENGTH.
BE GENUINE IN YOUR COMMUNICATION AND DON’T HIDE YOUR
FEELINGS. EXAMPLE: “I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY, BUT I WANT
YOU TO KNOW I CARE.”
OFFER TO BE HELPFUL IN CONCRETE WAYS RATHER THAN AS A
GENERAL STATEMENT (“I’M HAPPY TO COME OVER AND MAKE
DINNER ONE NIGHT IF YOU NEED.” VS. “LET ME KNOW IF
THERE’S ANYTHING I CAN DO.”)
ALLOW PERIODS OF SILENCE, AND BE A GOOD LISTENER.
SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.STUDENTSOFAMF.ORG/SUPPORT -YOUR-FRIEND/
Activity Ideas to Support
Grieving Peers
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- HOST A GENERAL COFFEE/TEA AND CONVERSATION TIME
- INVITE THE GRIEVING PERSON TO THE COMMON LOUNGE
OR YOUR APARTMENT TO DO ANY TYPE OF ART TOGETHER
- ASK THE PERSON TO JOIN YOU FOR A CAF MEAL/SNACK
-A S K T H E P E R S O N I F ( S ) H E W A N T S T O M E D I T A T E , P R A Y ,
AND/OR TALK WITH YOU IN INTERFAITH MEDITATION ROOM
(WHICH IS NEXT TO THE UNIVERSITY MINISTRY OFFICE)
-A S K T H E P E R S O N I F ( S ) H E W A N T S T O W O R K O U T A T K O R E T
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USF Support Contact Information
CAPS
Gillson Hall, Lower Level
Daytime & “After Hours:”
415-422-6352
University Ministry
Phelan Hall, Lower Level
415-422-4463
SHaRE
University Center, 5th Floor
415-422-6824
CASA
University Center, 3rd Floor
415-422-5050
Public Safety
Lone Mountain, Lower Level
General Line: 415-422-4201
Emergency Line: 415-422-2911
Thank you for your attention, and please
reach out for support if you need it!
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