Counseling Center helps students cope with loss

By Sofia Syed, Arts & Life Editor

Death and loss of a loved one is a tragic experience that one may not know how to fully deal with. The University of Akron Testing and Counseling Center presented a “Coping with Grief” workshop on Nov. 9. to help students.

Graduate assistant Charity Smith and psychology intern Amber Sylvan presented this workshop, addressing reactions to loss, healthy coping strategies, and how to grow through grief.

Smith and Sylvan began the PowerPoint with a humorous Adult Swim clip that dealt with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

According to Sylvan, everyone handles the grieving process differently, and it does not follow a chronological order. Those stages are not necessary to properly grieve.

Moreover, there are multiple grieving styles which include intuitive, instrumental, blended, and dissonant. Intuitive grieving is emotional, instrumental is intellectual, blended is a combination of both intuitive and instrumental — it is considered the most common style of grieving — and dissonant is the inability to express grief.

They also explained the difference between grief and mourning.

Grief is the initial reaction to a loss and mourning is moving forward with a loss.

Additionally, Smith talked about the four tasks involved with mourning. Task one is accepting the reality of loss. This task includes burials and funerals to help one start the grieving process. Task two is processing the pain of grief, which may include anxiety, anger, guilt, and loneliness. Task three is adjusting to a world without that person who passed, which deals with an external, internal, and spiritual adjustment. The last task is to find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life.

However, these tasks are fluid and not fixed.

Sometimes after a loved one passes, it can shake up one’s values and beliefs. They can lose their direction in life. Getting stuck in this mindset makes it difficult for a person to move forward in a healthy manner.

According to Smith, if one does not work through the pain it can become physical. Also only thinking about positives after someone has passed is a way of avoiding grief.

Grief can also be considered “complicated grief” if the grief becomes so deliberating that it prevents one from functioning normally. This can be a result of an unexpected loss; suicide is an example of this.

Suicide is the hardest to cope with because there are more questions than answers.

Another type of grief is disenfranchised grief, which is any mode of death that is not publicly accepted. Disenfranchised grief also increases the risk of complicated grief. Smith gave an example of this type of grief: a woman having an affair with a married man because she cannot publicly grieve should the man pass away.

People deal with grief differently. According to the American Psychology Association website, it is important to talk about the death of a loved one and take care for one’s self. Additionally, one should reach out and try to help others who are also dealing with a loss because it can help both individuals cope. Another tip from the APA website is to remember and celebrate the deceased loved one— that could be by donating to their favorite charity or doing something in memory of them.

The counseling center is available to anyone. If help is needed visit