The death of someone who is significant to us can be one of the hardest things we will experience in life. Whether it’s expected or a shock, the enormity of loss is something that has a profound impact on us.
Bereavement can evoke a wide range of feelings, and coping with loss is difficult at any time. However, as a student who may be isolated from family and friends, with other pressures such as deadlines to meet, exams to revise for and potential money worries, it can feel overwhelming.
What is grief?
Grief is an inevitable and human response to the loss of another person. It can make maintaining our studies, work and personal lives very challenging, and may take a long time to work through.
Sometimes there seems to be an expectation that a bereaved person should have recovered after a certain time has elapsed, but everyone has their own recovery time.
Help is available to you at King’s regardless of when your bereavement happened.
Common feelings associated with grief
- Shock and disbelief: you may feel numb and unable to take in what has happened.
- Anxiety and panic: sometimes in situations that wouldn’t normally bother you.
- Guilt and regret: whether for things you wish you had said and done (or not done), or for just being alive. These feelings are particularly strong when someone has died by suicide.
- An overwhelming sense of loss and sadness: sometimes we may feel as though a part of ourselves has been lost.
- Depressed: feelings of wanting to withdraw from family and friends, or feeling that there is no point going on.
- Anger and rage: some of this may relate to feeling out of control, that everything is chaotic.
- A sense of injustice and envy: of those who aren’t suffering in this way.
- Relief: particularly if the person who has died was suffering a great deal.
Common physical responses to grief
- Sleep disturbance
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to concentrate
Emotional support after a bereavement
Bereavement affects people in a variety of ways. Sometimes we realise that something is stopping us from moving forward with our lives. We might be grieving intensely long after the event or unable to react to the loss at all, perhaps to the point of not being able to cry.
Grief can be debilitating when you’re a student. You might be struggling to concentrate on your work or find managing social and financial commitments just too much.
If you’re struggling after a loss, it might be helpful to speak to someone outside your immediate circle of friends and family. Use the options below to discover the support available at King’s and beyond.
Where can I get support from the King’s community?
Counselling & Mental Health Support Service
Speaking with someone from King’s Counselling & Mental Health Service may help you navigate the grieving process.
To learn more about the service, visit How can the Counselling & Mental Health Support Service support me? To get in touch, head to Registering with the Counselling & Mental Health Support Service.
The Chaplaincy is here for any student or staff member, of all faiths and none. We have Chaplains representing Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Christian traditions. No matter who you are, where you're from and whomever you love, they are here for you.
The Chaplains can support you if you’re saying goodbye to a loved one, mourning their death, or asking questions about your own mortality.
They can also help if you have practical questions about death, such as if you are organising a funeral or would like to hold a memorial service.
Visit Chaplaincy: Memorial Services for more information.
Which bereavement charities can support me?
The following UK organisations provide support, information and advice for people affected by bereavement. All these services are free to access for everyone living in the UK.
- Cruse Bereavement Support promote the well-being of bereaved people. They also run a forum specifically for young people to share their experiences.
- SANDS Bereavement Support provides information and support to anyone affected by the death of a baby.
- NHS Grief after bereavement or loss also have lots of resources to support mental health.
Academic support after a bereavement
Losing someone close to you may have an impact on your ability to study or to complete assessments.
If you’re struggling to manage your studies due to a bereavement, we recommend you contact your Personal Tutor. Alternatively, speaking to your Faculty Wellbeing Advsior can help.
The following articles also provide useful information:
Financial support after a bereavement
If you choose to take time out from your degree due to a bereavement, your student funding may be affected. Check out the following articles to learn more: