May 10th, 2019, 11:08 PM

Coping with Loss From Afar

By Lorenza Aranda
Image Credit: Unsplash/Ben White
How to cope with losing someone close from far away.

The idea of someone close to me dying never came to my mind, it was unfathomable, especially while studying overseas. But last week I lost someone very close to me and I couldn't go back home to mourn or be with my family. It has taken me a while to cope with the concept of that person being gone, especially being an ocean away, alone in a city where I don't go home to my family. The AUP community is full of international students that can go through the same painful process that I'm going through. Losing someone is always hard, but losing someone from a distance is unimaginable. So here are a few ways to cope with it and how to get help.

When someone close to you dies, you can feel all kinds of things, but the main feeling is sadness; unimaginable, empty sadness. If you don't look for help, sometimes you can confuse this sadness with depression; everybody deals with this differently, however. Adding to this the stress of school, exams, and living in Paris, it is a recipe for disaster. It is very important to not underestimate your feelings, let yourself mourn and look for help.

Image Credit: Unsplash/MMPR

AUP has a brilliant guidance counselor: Pamela Montfort, I reached out to her, not just for me but for you, whoever you are reading this, you need to know that it is OK to cry, to seek help and to be sad. "It’s important not to underestimate their effects given that they can impact on our mood, sleeping, attention (to name some effects), and end up impacting our health, quality of life and also academics. It’s important to find the time for oneself but not to isolate either and to remember that it’s OK not to feel OK," said Montfort. 

You can't go through the process of losing someone alone, you need to lean on someone, and Ms. Montfort recommended a few places in Paris where you can look for help:

  • If you are an AUP student you can see Ms. Montfort on campus from Monday to Friday (appointment online)—it is a good starting point when feeling lost and not knowing what to do. 
  • There are also off-campus counselors and therapists who are affiliated with AUP’s health coverage. Ms. Montfort can help to establish communication with them. 
  • The Rainbow Connections Grief support group is a support group held at the American Church and it is completely independent from AUP. You can attend the meetings: they meet every other Friday evening and every other Wednesday during the day. For questions, you can contact


Image Credit: Pamela Montfort

Sometimes you are just a friend helping out someone who is dealing with grief, but you don't need to do it alone, you can also reach for help. "For people who are helping someone going through grief, don’t think it’s your responsibility to make the pain go away. Don’t be afraid to ask what the person needs. It’s OK to be 'just' a listening ear. This can already help enormously. I would also recommend good self-care practice and reaching out for help," said Montfort.

For me, being in constant contact with my family has really helped, even though it is mostly FaceTime and texting, it helps to talk to them and expressing how you are feeling. Even if it is not by speaking, you can write, you can talk, you can paint, whatever makes you feel better, but it is very important to express what you are feeling and look for help. I wrote a letter to the person I lost and writing it, reading it out loud and talking about her has really helped me: 

"Thank you, T, without you, your company, your example, and your fight, I would not be who I am today, I will remember you forever". 

Remember that you are not alone, so look for help, it is OK to not feel OK. Feel, cry, express it and cope with it, you are going to come out of it.