One of the most challenging life events we face is the death of a loved one. Although some young adults believe that they are too young to experience this type of loss, it is actually quite common at this time in life. One study found that, at any given time, 22-30% of college students are actively grieving the loss of a loved one (Balk, 2008). No matter when a death occurs, it takes a toll on family members and friends.
For many years, researchers talked about the 'stages of grief.' But more recent research tells us that we don't really grieve in distinct stages, but rather we work through four tasks. Worden's TEAR model of grief describes these tasks as:
A great resource to help you learn more about grief can be found at LearnPsychology: Grief. You might also want to work through your own grief process using meditation/journaling. A good resources is Martha Hickman's book, Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief, available through most book sellers.
There are also many great organizations in the community that can help. Hospices and places of worship commonly provide grief and bereavement services. If you need assistance locating grief support, contact 211, ask your doctor, or consult with your clergy.
The most important thing to remember when the death of a loved one occurs is that you are not alone.
Check out some of the statistics on bereaved college students as well as some resources that can help you cope through this emotional time.