Grief: Navigating Post-Graduation and Summer Breaks

collegetips culture praticaltools May 19, 2024

Graduating from school is a milestone, yet it often comes with an unexpected emotional burden—grief. This grief stems from the end of a significant chapter, leaving behind a familiar routine, friends, and a sense of identity tied to being a student. Similarly, the summer break, often seen as a time for relaxation, can also bring about feelings of loss and disorientation.

For many students, school provides structure and a clear sense of purpose. After graduation, this structure vanishes, replaced by uncertainty about the future. This transition can trigger grief as graduates mourn the loss of their academic life. The camaraderie with classmates and the daily interactions with teachers form a support system that suddenly dissolves. The realization that familiar faces and routines will no longer be part of their daily lives can lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness.

Summer breaks, although temporary, can evoke similar emotions. The abrupt change from a busy school schedule to a more relaxed, unstructured time can leave students feeling adrift. The lack of routine can cause anxiety and a sense of loss, especially if they are away from friends and their usual social circle. This period of inactivity can also lead to reflection and the resurfacing of anxieties about academic and personal growth.

To cope with these feelings, students can adopt several strategies:

  • Staying connected with friends through regular meet-ups or virtual chats can maintain a sense of community
  • Setting small, achievable goals during the summer can provide structure and a sense of purpose
  • Engaging in hobbies or learning new skills can also be fulfilling and distracting

Acknowledging these feelings of grief is crucial. Talking about them with friends, family, or a counselor can help in processing emotions. Understanding that these feelings are a natural response to change can also provide comfort. Transitioning from one phase of life to another is challenging, but with the right support and strategies, students can navigate their grief and find new paths forward.

Building a mental health community can be a source of strength during big life transitions. Check to see if your college offers a campus-hosted virtual community and video / virtual zoom resources to support yourself. If you're looking for more, Movement Genius has over 250 proven therapist-designed routines and stress hacks to support you during this time.  

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