A Counselor’s Tips for a Healthy Perspective this Spring

Grief Story

For the last few years—and especially now as you approach the end of your coursework, you’ve probably imagined walking across the stage to receive your diploma and celebrating with family and friends as you depart the Hill.

Unfortunately, many of the festivities that come along this special milestone are currently postponed as a result of COVID-19. As we approach graduation, Miller Folk, a counselor in the Trevecca Counseling Center, shares some advice on how to deal with a few common myths about grief.

Folk explained that grief is far more widespread than commonly thought. “We're in this collective grief currently as a world, especially those who are going through these really big milestones, whether it be even something as young as these elementary school kids who were excited about their dance recitals or their baseball seasons,” says Folk.

Graduation is a major milestone—and this year a measure of grief comes right along with it. So, as you deal with unmet expectations, here are a few myths about grief to watch out for.

  1.  It has to be a death in order to name something as grief. According to Folk, the idea that only the death of someone really close to you can cause deep grief is a lie. Recognized that grief comes with any unmet expectation, whether that's the death of a dream or a loved one.
  2.  I can just power through it. You might think, I’ve got to keep powering through. I’ve got to keep doing my classwork. I can’t be sad. Rather than succumbing to this myth, it’s important to let yourself feel the emotions and the loss. If you can get it outside of your head and your heart, that grief has a little less power.
  3. I’m in it all alone. In the middle of grief, it's easy to succumb to the urge to cut yourself off from others. "No one's going to get it," you might think. While others may not fully understand, know that as the Trevecca community, we're in this together.

If you’re currently grieving what should have been, Folk offered a few ways to deal with your grief during this challenging time.

  1. Practice basic self-care. Folk shared that “self-compassion is really helpful.” This includes exercise and drinking a lot of water. “It sounds so silly, but our body holds so much stress and our emotions can be stored up,” Folk said.
  2. Shifting your expectations and give each other and yourselves a ton of grace. You need to realize it’s not realistic for you to be able to continue to do everything exactly as you did before because everything’s been turned upside down.
  3. Sticking to a routine and being mindful and grateful for the moment can also help. There’s a lot to be grateful for, like getting to spend more time with family. Instead of always focusing on the headlines, being grateful and slowing down is important during this time, Folk advised.

The Counseling Center at Trevecca is available to help graduates and others during this difficult season. Folk also recommends this free online group David Kessler is offering for those dealing with grief.