Agony Aunt: Coping With Loss of a Loved One While at Uni

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University can be one of the most rewarding and exciting times of your life: studying something you love; meeting new people and living with your peers; joining societies and clubs.

But what happens when the time so often dubbed “the best years of your life” are interrupted by things beyond your control?

The loss of a loved one, family member, friend or even acquaintance can be one of the most profoundly difficult and emotionally confusing experiences of anyone’s life, no matter your situation. But when it happens during university it can be even harder, as you are often living away from the place you grew up, without the support systems you have at home, whilst also juggling academic, professional and social commitments.

However, the University of Leeds (as well as most other universities) and Leeds University Union, are well equipped to support students who have experienced bereavement, in both academic and emotional capacities, with support ready for you at any time. This support is available both on campus and online, whether you are in Leeds, on a placement year or studying abroad. Whether you would prefer to visit a friendly face once in a while; attend a meeting in a group setting; or would rather speak to someone anonymously, there are so many avenues of support available to you.

It is important to remember that the things you are experiencing are more than likely “normal” responses to loss

In terms of academic support, a bereaved student can apply for mitigating circumstances for exams and assignments. You are also allowed authorised absence from university. Though each student’s circumstances are taken on an individual basis, it is a good idea to inform your tutors of your situation as quickly as possible, so they can support you. Your tutors are aware that sometimes life gets in the way of assessments, exams and other commitments, and your emotional wellbeing should always be the priority.

Outside of the ‘academic bubble’, LUU Bereaved and Young Student Network (BAYSN) is a society run by students, for students. It aims to bring support to those who have experienced grief. The group runs various sessions, from small semi-structured group meetings, to social events such as bowling or trips to the pub. Participation in group discussions is not compulsory and it doesn’t matter how recently the loss happened, the group welcomes any student that needs support or just wants to listen-in to a meeting.

Useful Resources:

Age UK                                                                                                          Macmillan Cancer Support 

Cruse Bereavement Support                                                                        Marie Curie 

Leeds Bereavement Forum                                                                          Mind

Leeds Nightline (8pm-8am during term-time: 0113 380 1285)            

Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service                                           Samaritans (Free 24-hour helpline: 116 123)     


Grief can bring about feelings of sadness, confusion, guilt, helplessness or hopelessness and can have a huge impact on your own outlook on life. Despite the often overwhelming nature of these feelings, it is important to remember that the things you are experiencing are more than likely “normal” responses to loss, and are necessary in processing grief. However, if you feel like negativity is consuming your mind and affecting your life for long periods of time, you can visit your GP (in Leeds or at home) and speak to them about your mental wellbeing and options that are available to you. Your mental and physical health are just as important as one another, so please seek help if you feel that it would benefit you.  


Jess Beedle