Dealing with grief is difficult at the best of times but the added pressures of university can make life even more overwhelming.
As someone currently in this situation, I’d like to talk about some of the university’s services to help other students who may be unsure where to turn to.
First of all, I just wanted to say that if you are dealing with grief, try not to feel guilty for reaching out for help. I know personally that sometimes I’ve downplayed my situation or said ‘surely other people have it worse, I shouldn’t complain or ask for help.’ That’s definitely not the case. Everyone deals with personal issues differently and you have the right to access the university’s services.
Although I can’t guarantee the reaction of every university staff member, it can be helpful to let your tutors know that you are going through a difficult time, particularly if you’re going to miss a class. If they don’t know about your circumstances, they can’t help you or consider to offer you an extension if required. If it needs to be taken further, it can be referred to the subject co-ordinator.
If you need an extension for an assessment, you may need to apply for Special Consideration, which covers students who have had their studies ‘severely impacted by short-term circumstances reasonably beyond their control’.
This form can be accessed in the Exams & Results section of the Student Portal. You must provide documentation as evidence of your circumstances. You should first consult the relevant tutor or co-ordinator though, as you may be eligible for an extension without needing to apply for Special Consideration.
You can find out more about the Special Consideration process on UMSU Advocacy’s page here.
Counselling and Psychological Services
The University’s Counselling and Psychological Services offers free confidential counselling to enrolled students and staff. Appointments can be made at the reception desk or by ringing 8344 6927 during business hours.
Although there can be a high demand for appointments, the service also offers 30 minute walk-in appointments at 2pm and 2.30pm each day but you must book in person and wait there, as there are limited spaces.
Counselling and Psychological Service is located on Level 2, 138 Cardigan St, Carlton, which is a short walk from the main campus. You can learn more about their services here.
You might like to keep some quiet spots on campus in mind for when you’re feeling reflective or would just like to be alone. To get you started, there’s System Garden, the Wom*n’s Room for female students, the lawns outside the Sidney Myer and 1888 buildings and the Elizabeth Murdoch courtyard (thanks Daphane for the suggestions!). Sometimes sitting in empty/quiet parts of buildings, where allowed, can be nice too.
I can respect that everyone deals with their issues differently. Some people will prefer to get straight back into study and university life, whilst others need time and space. It’s really about whatever works for you.
My final tip goes to those who are reading this post and may know someone dealing with grief. The best thing you can do for your friend or colleague is to let them know that you’re there for them, whether it be for a chat or filling them in on what they’ve missed. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer, it’s very likely that they will appreciate the thought and will consider it when they’re ready.