How to Cope with Tragedy During College

As we already know10245573_10203005720358436_4321314768201270526_n, college is one of the best and most stressful times in our life. We focus on our studies, social life, part-time jobs, making memories and so much more. As humans, it’s normal to feel invincible and that nothing can go wrong.

Unfortunately, when a tragedy happens it’s usually at the worst time, and it’s usually unexpected. A tragedy, by definition, is a very sad, unfortunate, or upsetting situation: something that causes strong feelings of sadness or regret.” A family member passing away, losing a pet, a school shooting, or even losing friends from high school are examples of tragedies that deeply affect your emotions and well being.

In April 2014, my Grandfather passed away suddenly in Pittsburgh, PA. I was in the middle of taking my first final exam when my mother called to inform me of the news. I had just returned from visiting him two weeks prior, so hearing this news hit me hard. I couldn’t focus on studying for my finals, I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep. All I wanted to do was be there with my family and grieve.

I spoke with my professors about the situation, and most of them were able to move my finals closer so I could take them and make it to the funeral in time. I pushed through my studies and focused to the best of my ability. I was able to make the five hour drive the night before the calling hours and be there with my family.

From this experience, I was able to grow as an individual and learn these ways to cope with tragedy during college:

  1. Keep busy and focus on your studies and friends. By staying focused on your day-to-day routines, you’re going to think less about what is bothering you and you can accomplish your needed tasks. Consider writing in a journal. I know it may sound silly, but getting your feelings out on paper may help you cope with the tragedy.
  2. Find someone to talk to. Friends, a teacher, a school therapist. Your friends are the ones who will lend an ear when you need someone to listen to you (and perhaps give you their own personal advice). Consider seeking counseling if the tragedy is significantly impacting your daily functions. The Wellness Center at Naz has some great therapists who will help you focus on overcoming your paralyzing emotions and help you succeed through it. Remember that there are others feeling the same way you do, and maybe talking with them about it will help you through the difficult time.
  3. Take care of yourself. Don’t let this situation make you lose sight of what is important. Eat well, get your sleep, and exercise. A healthy mind is a healthy life. Don’t turn to alcohol or drugs, as this could lead to a downward spiral that can affect your entire life.
  4. If a loved one has deceased, think of past memories you have with them. Think of holidays, vacations, inside jokes, and most importantly, their beautiful heart. If they have been suffering for a long time, remember they are in a better place. Although we miss them in the physical world, they are no longer suffering and they are at peace.
  5. They are always with us. It does not matter what religion you believe in, when someone passes we want to believe that they are always with us and they know of our accomplishments and daily adventures.

Most of all, you need to remember to love life. I wish more than anything my Pap could be here to watch me graduate and walk down the aisle at my wedding, but I know he is watching and with me every step of the way.

If tragedy strikes while you’re in college, or during your life in general, it may seem like the end of the world.

Just know that there are friends to talk to, and life will get better.

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