Coping with Grief

Support a friend who has experienced a loss


  • Be present physically and/or emotionally
  • Allow the person to be sad
  • Reach out regularly —send a card, email, give a hug, or offer practical help
  • Know that it is okay to cry and to show own emotions
  • Be willing to just sit with others, sometimes without talking


  • Avoid the grieving person/others
  • Avoid talking about the loss
  • Compare the loss to other losses you've experienced
  • Expect grief to be over in a certain time period
  • Provide comments that start with "at least..."

Everyone experiences grief differently

You may experience some of the symptoms below—this is normal. And if you experience other emotions, or none at all, that is okay too.

  • Suffering: This is the long period of grief during which the person gradually comes to terms with the reality of the event/loss.
  • Sadness: This is the most common feeling that follows loss. It may become quite intense and be experienced as emptiness or despair.
  • Anger: Can be one of the most confusing feelings for the grieving person. Anger is a response to feeling powerless, frustrated, or even abandoned. It can be directed at the deceased, oneself, one’s higher power, or others.
  • Anxiety: Often grievers become anxious about their ability to take care of themselves. They may also fear losses of other important people in their lives or fear their own death.
  • Guilt: Thinking about things you regret doing to the deceased or wish you had done is a very normal experience.

Remember to take care of yourself

  • Balance time focused on studies/projects with allowing time to grieve.
  • Seek out people who care for and support you. Share your reactions, thoughts, and how the experience is affecting you.
  • Resist numbing feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc. This will only complicate and prolong the grief process.
  • Take care of your physical health. Grief can put a heavy burden of stress on your body. Take medications as prescribed, get adequate sleep, exercise, and eat regularly.


The following places can be resources during the grief process. Contact any of them if you would like some support.

  • Counseling Service, (563) 387-1375
  • Campus Ministries, (563) 387-1040
  • Student Life, (563) 387-1020

 Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.

—Earl Grollman

Counseling Service Hours

8:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. and
1:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m.