Tips For Helping A College Student Through The Loss Of A Loved One

Posted on: 2 November 2017


The loss of a loved one is going to be painful and difficult for any human being. For college students, a great loss presents its own set of challenges on top of grief itself. Follow these tips to help a college student through practical matters like attending the funeral and other struggles he or she will inevitably face in the aftermath of a loved one's death:

Offer to help with Planning the Funeral

It's not often that college students are tasked with planning an entire funeral, but college students are often asked to take part in the process. If the student feels overwhelmed, you can offer to help with the planning process. Just being a sounding board may be helpful.

Give the Student a Chance to Express Their Feelings

It can be overwhelming to deal with the death of a loved one along with the many demands a college student faces each day. The young person may not even feel they have time to grieve. Let the college student know that he or she can open up and share, though. Ask open-ended questions to help the student open up. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • What are some of your happiest memories of your loved one?
  • How are you feeling about things right now?
  • What are some reasons you have to celebrate the person's life?
  • How can I make these even a little bit easier for you?
  • What's one thing that you wish more people understood about your loved one?

A simple question can allow the person to open up and subsequently feel soothed.

Offer to Cover Airfare to and from the Funeral

College students are known for struggling financially, and there are many reasons why that's the case for many students. Since young people haven't had the chance to develop marketing skills, their job options are low. They also have limited time, so it can be hard to get a lucrative job around the limited hours a college student has available to work. Therefore, a college student who has lost a loved may not be able to afford airfare home to attend the funeral.

If the student cannot attend the funeral, that can be absolutely traumatizing in and of itself. The student may feel like they're letting the person down. If you can afford it, offer to cover travel costs to empower the student to attend services. If you can't, you may offer to help fundraise the amount that would be necessary.

Finally, keep in mind that the best way to help anyone grieve is to simply be there. Let the college student know that you are there no matter where the student may be. As the young person may go between staying at home to living at college, it can be hard to know where to turn in the deepest times of grief. By being there, you may be helping the person in more ways than you know. 

Contact local funeral services​ for more information and assistance.