Grief and Loss


  • Each year about 16% of ASU students surveyed indicate they experienced the death of a family member or friend during the past 12 months.
  • 15.2% of ASU students indicated that experiencing the death of a family member or friend had been difficult or traumatic to handle (in the past 12 months.
  • 14.8% of those who had experienced the death of a family member or friend in the past year indicated that it had a serious impact on their academic performance, meaning that they received a lower grade in a class, dropped or took an incomplete in a class, or had a significant delay in their graduation processes.
  • 43.7% of ASU students indicated they were interested in receiving information about grief and loss from ASU.

Sources: American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment: Arizona State University Spring 2019. Baltimore: American College Health Association; Spring 2019 (n=2,096).

Grief is a deeply personal experience that occurs as a response to loss. The journey through grief is unique. We all go through it in our own way and at our own pace. Some examples of losses that could cause grief are:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of health
  • Loss of a relationship
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of finances

Grief is a journey that one must navigate to reach healing. This journey includes passing through common stages of grief, which can be experienced in any order and/or multiple times.

  • Denial: shock, numbness or isolation
  • Anger: resentment and frustration towards loved ones or the situation
  • Bargaining: helplessness, guilt, “If only…”
  • Depression: intense sadness, regret, withdrawing
  • Acceptance: accepting the loss, accepting the new reality

Source: Corr CA. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and the “Five Stages” Model in a Sampling of Recent American Textbooks. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying. 2020;82(2):294-322. doi:10.1177/0030222818809766

Grief is a unique journey that requires time and energy. Everyone deals with grief in their own way, yet there may be moments when grief feels overwhelming and exhausting. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to grieve. Challenge yourself to use healthy ways to cope with grief and loss, such as:

  • Keep a diary or journal of your thoughts and feelings
  • Write a letter to your loved one or pet
  • Volunteer or donate to a charity in honor of your loved one
  • Get a massage
  • Sign up for an exercise class
  • Attend a faith service
  • Reflect on the goals and visions for your future
  • Reach out to supportive individuals

Remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to heal. There may be days when you feel great, but there may also be setbacks. Reminders can trigger emotions or a physical response. This is not a sign of weakness. Instead it is a sign that you are still moving through the grief journey.

Grief is a unique journey, yet we can still support each other. Let a friend know that you want to support them through the grief journey. Practice the following support strategies:

  • Practice good listening skills and validate your friend’s emotions
  • Express your concern for your friend
  • Let your friend know that you care
  • Be available for contact
  • Help your friend develop balance in their life

Please consider seeking support for grief and loss if you are experiencing difficulty with normal tasks or difficulty coping with grief after a prolonged period of time.

ASU Counseling Services

ASU Health Services