How Do They Cope: Helping Others Through Sudden Losses

Dealing with loss is not easy.  Helping others deal with loss can be even harder.  I am not trained to counsel grieving individuals or groups, but what I have learned is that I can still be there.

When tragedy strikes, it is usually unexpected.  Our students are often away from their families, their main support network and have a harder time figuring out how to get through these events.  We may not be trained grief counselors, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to help in any way we can.

Many times, our students view their place of work or organization on campus as another family, their campus family.  And when tragedy hits one of these groups, it hits hard.  But there are things we can do in our supervisory roles that can help

  1. Remind students that you are there if they need someone to talk to, and that (in most cases) there are counseling services available on campus for individuals and groups.
  2. Create space for them to talk as a group/team/staff if you can
  3. If they are worried about their school work, encourage them to talk to their academic advisor to see what options are available
  4. Make yourself available to talk – sometimes people affected by tragedy just need someone to listen to them
  5. If they are your student employees, see what accommodations you can provide for their work schedules.  Also, pay attention to signs that might show they are not coping well (changes in attitude, etc.)
  6. Encourage the group to find a way to honor the memory of the individual, can they host a fundraiser? Hold a memorial? Re-name something for the department?
  7. Ask how you can help and remind them you are there for whatever they need.

By: Caitlin


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