Bereavement & Loss

Bereavement & Loss


Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to come to terms with in your life. Suffering a bereavement while at University can add additional stress to the situation. You might be away from home or be coping with academic pressures. Welfare@CampusLife are here to help you with information and advice at this difficult time.

What is it all about?

How You May Be Feeling

Grief is natural when you lose a loved one, yet everyone will experience it differently. You may feel like you should be crying but feel you can’t, or you may feel you can’t stop feeling weepy yet don’t understand why.  There is no ‘one’ way that you should be feeling at any given time. Remember that not everyone will experience these feelings as separate stages. You may feel more than one thing at once.

What You May Be Feeling

  • Shock – it is common to feel numbness and have little reaction when first hearing the news. It takes time to process the reality that someone you love has died.
  • Tearfulness – You may feel very sad and cry a lot. This is a perfectly natural reaction. It is also natural for some people to cry very little. It is sometimes difficult to control crying and it can happen unexpectedly. Don’t feel embarrassed by this.
  • Exhaustion – Grief can make you feel mentally and physically exhausted. You may find yourself taking on extra responsibility at this point, which might lead to exhaustion. For example, you could be looking after another member of the family due to the death.
  • Anger – Some people can feel angry that someone died, possibly looking for someone to blame for their loss. If your bereavement is following suicide, you may feel anger that the person did not let you know how they were feeling.
  • Guilt – It is common for some people to experience guilt after they have been bereaved. This can be because they feel they should have done more to prevent the death, or because they feel guilty for feeling angry with the person who has left them.
  • Withdrawal - Withdrawal from social events is normal. Not feeling like you can face you friends is normal, but some people find that keeping busy helps.
  • Relief - In some circumstances, this is good. If the person you loved was suffering for a long time due to illness, sometimes their death can come as a relief to know they are no longer suffering. 
  • Depressed - You may begin to feel utterly hopeless and in despair, you may feel like life is not worth as much without the person you love. If you do experience this, it’s important to visit your GP.

 These feelings will gradually fade and become less painful over time, and you’ll find you are able to talk about your loved one without feeling upset.

Practical advice & tips

Things To Try That May Help You

Be patient with yourself - Give yourself time to accept what has happened. There is no timeframe for when you should experience certain emotions. Try not to fight your feelings. Allow time for your thoughts and feelings.

Talk to someone – Talk to someone about how you are feeling. You may not necessarily find the advice helpful, but the act of talking about your feelings may be useful in itself. Talking to your friends and family will help; it will save you from locking up your feelings. Some people feel like they cannot talk to their friends or family, you can try speaking to a local bereavement counsellor instead.

Speak to your GP – If you are feel that your grief is impacting on your everyday life and this has been going on for some time, it may be helpful for you to speak to your GP. They will be able to check on your overall health and can refer you for further support.

Cut down on alcohol – Some people can look to alcohol to boost their mood while they are grieving and may feel like it numbs the pain. It is important not to use alcohol as an emotional crutch. This may lead to alcohol dependency.

Eat well - Making sure you are getting the right foods is important. Not eating well, will have an impact on how you are feeling.

Exercise – Gentle and regular exercise can help to boost your mood naturally. Getting out of the house and into nature also gives you a sense of purpose. Your overall health will improve.

Do something practical – Use your hands and concentrate on a craft you enjoy. Bake a cake, get out the sewing machine, fix your bike or even give yourself a manicure. Getting away from social media for a few hours and doing something practical can help to slow down your racing thoughts. Practicing mindfulness (being in the moment) can help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Notifying The University Of Your Loss

It is important to notify your college admin contact and your personal tutor of your bereavement. They will then be aware of your situation should you need to be absent from any lectures or tutorial meetings. They can give you advice on any worries you might have about upcoming exams or assessment.

Attending the funeral
Make sure you tell your college if you are going to be taking time off for the funeral. They can put it on your attendance record. Contact your lecturers of the classes you are going to miss, just so they are aware of the reasons you are missing.

Extenuating Circumstances & Deferral Of Exams


The death or serious illness of a close relative or friend can be regarded as extenuating circumstances which may affect your performance at the University. This means that you possibly can submit a request for extenuating circumstances for assessment, or deferral of examinations to your college. If approved, you could have a deadline extension or the component omitted. If your deferral request is approved, you could sit your exam uncapped in the next exam period. Deferral requests need to be submitted within 5 working days of each exam. Please note that all requests would need to have appropriate supporting documents provided, in order to be considered. In the case of a bereavement, this would usually mean providing a copy of the death certificate or funeral programme. In the case of a serious illness, this would likely be in the form of relevant medical documents.

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