19 Coping with Loss

Maddie Morris; Rhianna Hernandez; Katya Romero; and Faith Danford

Crowd of people walking on a cross walk with all the people blurred together to create the feeling of being overwhelmed

Loss is a significant but devastating part of life. Loss is defined as harm or distress that comes from losing someone or something. It can be challenging when a person is in college since it is already a confusing and transitional part of life where one is trying to essentially figure out the rest of their life and who they want to be. While there are many types of loss, such as death, loss of friendships, the end of a relationship, and more, it is typical to go through the same stages of loss or grief to help cope. It is also crucial to utilize the resources offered at your college when going through hard times like loss. No matter what someone may be going through, it is imperative that you take the steps needed to heal and be able to move on.

Stages of Loss

Everyone goes through at least one type of loss at some point in their life. When experiencing a form of loss, a majority of people will go through certain stages to help them cope. These five stages of loss/grief were first introduced by a Swiss-American psychiatrist in 1969 with her book, On Death and Dying. Keep in mind that not everyone will experience all five stages, and not everyone will go through the phases in the same order.

The stages of grief are as follows:

  • Denial- This stage is usually a temporary defense mechanism. A common phrase people say at this stage is, “This is not happening to me.”
  • Anger- Anger usually comes after the realization that denial cannot persist. People in this stage often ask themselves, “who is to blame.”
  • Bargaining- This stage is where people end up trying to negotiate for more time, usually pleading to a higher power. Common phrases are, “I will do anything for…” and “I will not do this anymore for…”
  • Depression- The depression stage is when individuals recognize the current situation but become overwhelmed with sadness. Most people will say, “I miss my loved one; why go on?”
  • Acceptance- This is the last stage people tend to go through. This is where people will accept the inevitable future.

Although these stages are generally associated with the loss of a loved one, it can be applied to any type of loss. It could include the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or any other life-altering change.

Types of Loss

Girl sitting alone in a cafe.

As someone goes through their life, especially navigating their way through college, they may be faced with a sudden loss of some sort. As a college student, there are many losses one can go through, the loss of a loved one, a pet, a scholarship, a job, or housing. Paradise Valley Community College offers a variety of resources that can help support their students as they make their way through the hardships they may be facing. They provide free counseling, the guidance of generous and caring advisors, a plethora of scholarships, and a fantastic tutoring program for those struggling with school. As college students, we are most likely to go through the death of a loved one or the passing of a pet. These kinds of losses are heart-wrenching and can take years to truly accept this loss and move on. It is important to remember that people cope differently depending on their loss and their mental state through the process. Regardless of the struggle a person is going through, they are all valid, and the way someone copes is reasonable, too.

Coping Strategies 

Going through a loss can cause a huge emotional impact on a student’s everyday life. Whether it is a loss of someone close to you or a personal loss, it can affect you just as intensely. Grief is the number one reaction to loss. You can experience anxiety, headaches, chronic fatigue, changes in appetite, frustration, and many more struggles. It is normal to encounter these feelings after a dramatic life change, but learning how to handle them can benefit your life. Strategies that can help you through this process include breathing exercises, taking steps to find support, and taking care of yourself. It can be hard to focus on yourself during a time like this, but it is so crucial that you do not neglect your own needs. You can engage in activities that allow you to feel happiness, create a routine that provides structure, eat right and drink lots of water, and surround yourself with a positive environment. You also have the choice to seek therapy or even group therapy if needed. Regardless of how you choose to cope, taking steps towards a goal is the best thing anyone can do.

Local Resources 

Some resources provided may help you through these emotions during school at PVCC listed below:

  • Mental Health Support: The counselors at PVCC provide a safe environment for students who can feel heard and share their personal stories with no judgment. They are there to help you through your personal, academic, and career issues. While they do not conduct therapy, they do help you learn more about yourself and identify coping strategies to emerge with enhanced self-confidence and a clear path. Although the website provides useful information, there’s another option to seek one-on-one help through the KSC building, Room: KSC1220.
  • Financial Aid Help: Some students can experience the loss of a scholarship, money, and housing. PVCC provides financial aid to eligible students to help pay for their educational expenses, including tuition, program and course fees, books, and living expenses. Their knowledgeable and friendly staff can provide information and guidance to students and families on understanding what aid is available, how to apply, and how to remain eligible for support throughout your educational career.
  • Tutoring Help: As a student, it is critical to stay on top of your classes and feel successful with your education. However, some internal problems can affect our lives and can cause us to fall behind. PVCC provides tutoring for those who need extra help and strive to pass their classes. Paradise Valley Community College offers many different types of tutoring for specific needs and provides an easy way to make appointments with specific tutors.
  • The Crisis Text Line: The Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 support for those in a crisis. All you have to do is text 741741 from anywhere in the US to get in contact with a trained Crisis Counselor. Their number one priority is to protect personal data. The Electronic Privacy Information Center called them “a model steward of personal data” in 2018. Users can feel comfortable talking about their problems with trusted counselors. They have so many positive reviews that show how they saved millions of lives.
  • Food Help: Loss of money can affect a student tremendously. With no money, you cannot provide yourself with food, which is a universal struggle students go through. The College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA) makes it their mission to end college student’s hunger. They are a professional organization of campus-based programs focused on alleviating food insecurity, starvation, and poverty among college students in the United States.


Whether you have lost a loved one, a job, a valued relationship, or a pet, the stages of loss are a very real and crucial process to go through to find peace, as well as helpful and healthy coping strategies. If you are struggling, it is advised that you seek help from any of the resources available listed above. No matter the significance of the loss, you are not alone, and assistance is accessible all around you. Just take that first step to find it.


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Good Health and Well-Being Copyright © 2020 by Maddie Morris; Rhianna Hernandez; Katya Romero; and Faith Danford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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