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The Counseling Center is available for free, confidential counseling and consultation. Please call 610.330.5005 for an appointment or drop by the second floor of Bailey Health Center.

There can be a range of responses to loss, and listed below are some typical reactions that you may be experiencing personally or may recognize in others. These responses are all considered part of normal human reactions to loss.

Physical Reactions
Sleep disturbance
Underactivity/over activity
Change in appetite
Digestive problems|
Muscle tremors/twitches
Startle reactions

Cognitive Reactions
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty solving problems
Preoccupation with the loss
Difficulty making decisions
Memory disturbance
Revenge fantasies
Lowered attention span
Fears about one’s own mortality

Emotional Reactions
Feelings of helplessness
Emotional numbing
Emotional sensitivity
Sense of hopelessness

When someone dies, their loss affects many people. Try not to pass judgment on others’ reactions, especially if they are different from your own. For some people a tragic event can trigger feelings and memories associated with other traumatic events in their lives. Family and friends might experience conflict resulting from the following:

  • Differences in opinion about how grief should be expressed:
  • Beliefs about who is “entitled” to grieve based on closeness of the relationship with the person who died
  • Differences in how quickly friends or family members appear to recover from the loss
  • Unresolved conflicts with the person who died

Where there is little anyone can do to take away these difficult and uncomfortable feelings, there are several things you can do to help reduce the intensity of distress.

  •  Keep to your normal routine as much as possible
  • Accept your responses (and others’) as normal human reactions
  • Write a letter to the person you lost; writing can help clear your mind of intrusive thoughts
  • Engage in a ritual that honors your loved one and that creates positive memories
  • Use exercise to reduce negative emotions and stress
  • Do not attempt to numb your emotional pain with drugs or alcohol
  • Reach out to others and spend time with people you trust and cherish
  • Use extra care when driving or engaging in tasks that require close attention and skill
  • Listen carefully when others express their grief
  • Be forgiving of friends and family (and yourself!) whose grief may lead them to behave in uncharacteristic ways
  • Give yourself permission to fall apart, feel terrible, or cry
  • Meditate or pray
  • Consider using art or music to express feelings when words fail you
  • Use the loss to help you clarify your values and focus on what is important to you
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