Grief and loss

Grief may be experienced in response to physical losses, such as death, or in response to symbolic or social losses such as divorce or loss of a job. The grief experience can be affected by one’s history and support system. Taking care of yourself and accessing the support of friends and family can help you cope with your grief experience.

There is no right way to grieve. It is an individual process and a natural part of life. Life won’t be the same after a loss, but experiencing your grief will allow you to adjust to life after loss.

Grief lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after your loss. It can be for months, or even years. Grief has no timetable - thoughts, emotions, behaviors and other responses may come and go.

This list will help guide you through some of the actions you may need to take and provide resources:

  • Contact the Social Security Administration for information regarding how death of a spouse or loved one may affect your future benefits.
  • You may be considering changes to your beneficiary designations. To update your life insurance beneficiaries, see Changing your benefits page for more details. To update beneficiaries for TIAA or Fidelity Investments accounts. 
  • If you were carrying someone who passed away on your health care, you will need to remove them. See Changing your benefits for more information.
  • If you had optional life insurance, please contact VCU HR at (804)827-1723 for assistance on how to submit a claim for the life insurance.
  • If you participate in a COVA Health Plan, you have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for yourself and your family members. The EAP provides helpful resources and access to counseling visits at no cost.  Anthem participants may log in with employer name “Commonwealth of Virginia” and Aetna participants may log in with username and password COVA. 
  • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides access to free legal consultations and ongoing discounts for the services of network attorneys. Contact your EAP for details. The EAP websites also provide templates for certain legal documents, including wills and health care directives. 
  • The Employee Assistance Program provides numerous articles, on demand webinars, and workshops. You can find these under the “Aging” tab as well as by keyword search “death”.
  • Make use of VCU’s relocation resources if needed to locate a new residence or secure discounts for home financing.
  • Contact your financial institutions for information about how to change account names as needed.
  • Some additional helpful resources are located on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website and CaringInfo.
  • Help Guide – Coping with Grief and Loss