How students can cope with the loss of a friendOn yesterday March 23, 2011, 20-year-old Nickolas Williams a resident of Lakeland, Florida and TCC student died after being run over by a bus. Although we did not graduate at the same time, we did attend high-school together and he was a very close friend of my sister. The community, family and friends have been devastated by the unexpected loss with many of them finding it difficult to cope. As soon as word got out about his untimely death many were just in disbelief and refused to believe the person everyone was referring to was Nick…not “their Nick”. Friends, family members, teammates, teacher and former coaches flocked to his Facebook and Twitter pages grieving, writing touching stories about their favorite memories with him and their agony over the loss. Death is a topic many don’t like to talk about but it is also inevitable….so how do you cope with the loss of a loved one?
According to Kübler-Ross, people go through phases and understanding what phase you’re in will help in dealing with the grieving process.

Phases of Grief:

  • Phase One:-Denial: “This isn’t happening to me”
  • Phase Two-Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Phase Three-Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Phase Four-Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Phase Five-Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what has happened.”

There is no time window for going through these phases it can take years. Sometime people never fully come to accepting the loss of a loved one or close friend. However, understanding what you’re going can help with coping and avoiding mental or emotional breakdowns.

Coping Strategies

  1. Writing about how you feel: Therapist encourage to limit this time to no more than 15 minutes per day because this should be therapeutic not inflict further pain from grief. As long as it is available writing on Nick’s Facebook wall or creating groups for him is also an outlet. Some topics you can write about include imagining how life will be a year from the date of the loss, feelings about the person, feelings about the death, memories.
  2. Interaction: Developing a strong support system with friends and peers or other people grieving. Using extra-curricular activities to be involved and interaction with others using tends to be more beneficial than speaking with a school counselor.
  3. Lifestyle changes: Having a structured eating, sleeping and spiritual schedule is also key when going through the emotional changes associated with the loss of a loved one. Therapist say: ” Anything from reciting comforting prayers or affirmations, to returning to established meal and bedtimes, can help grieving individuals regain a sense of normalcy in their lives.”

To Nick, someone known for his good heart, warm smile, infectious personality, athletic ability and dance moves. Your life was cut short; your death was untimely but your legacy lives forever. It’s clear the number of lives you touched with the support, the comments and pictures flooding your Facebook wall and the memorial held in your honor yesterday. You left your mark on this world and touched every person who had the pleasure of meeting you. Your legacy will live on forever.