Together we will beat cancer


Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

5 Nov 2019 19:20

Hi all, my mother passed four months after battling secondary breast cancer for two years when she was only 49 and I was 18, I'm really struggling to make this huge life transition without her by my side.

I started university this September, and while I felt fine for the first week or two I suddenly became really upset over not being able to talk to my mother a few weeks in. I haven't really had the best experience so far, I've only got three other flatmates and two of them are super close while I feel a bit more awkward around them and I haven't found a group of people who I click with like everyone else. All the people I considered best friends at the start have left me for other people, and while everyone's still nice I can't help but feel like an outsider. A few people know about my mum and have been nice about it but I'm not at the point where I'm ready to talk openly to basically strangers yet.I've been feeling really overwhelmed with the amount of socialising required to make and maintain friendships so I've been feeling pretty lonely, especially when her death has only really sunk in the past few weeks. And now everyone's going into groups for houses next year and I feel really left behind with no real connections here.

I just feel so down all the time and it's a struggle to put any effort into life at the moment. All I want to do is talk to my mum and cuddle her again it's driving me insane, I've been having really upsetting dreams and flashbacks to the day she died and after. The only person who I can really confide in is my boyfriend, who visits twice a week on average since he doesn't live far. He's been amazing with me whenever I feel down but I don't want to be dependent on him to feel normal or like a burden.

I feel like I just want to be back home all the time with my old friends and family. While I don't want to drop out of uni because it's so important to me, I'm really struggling to cope with all the stress from grief, doing well in the degree and making friends/decisions on who I'd like to live with next year. I've been crying a lot more than I did back home, always have a headache and have had a few moments that feel like panic attacks (I sort of zone out and can't breathe or stop thinking about the fact that my mother's really gone). I've contacted the university for bereavement counselling but they said it's going to take a while since the waiting list is so long. Sorry this has been me just ranting but I'm really having a hard time with life at the moment I feel like stress is taking over my life, which just makes me want to talk to my mum even more and inevitably get more upset.

Thank you for taking time to read x

Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

5 Nov 2019 19:53 in response to megant

HI Megant

So very sorry to hear about your mum, it must be a very difficult time for you, leaving home for university is always difficult at first but things will settle and you will find friends that you can get close to. It just takes time. You seem a bit down which is hardly surprising so instead of waiting on your University doing something about it why not visit the GP and let them know how your feeling, perhaps they could refer you to other services outside the University. You could also give Cruise bereavement a call

If it all gets too much you could always defer your place for a year to allow you to come to terms of losing your mum. My son had to do that last year as he was suffering from depression and anxiety. There's no shame in it.

I'm proud that my son realised he couldn't cope and sought help, afterall what all mums want is to see their children happy.

Take care of yourself xx



Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

15 Jan 2020 02:05 in response to megant


im at uni .

i can't concentrate.

Missing my mum after 2 years she wasn't with me.q


Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

15 Jan 2020 15:03 in response to megant

Hi Megan,

Incredibly difficult i'm sure for you having to go through all this, you are likely to feel alone as well particularly going into a new environment, its hard not to let the sad feelings affect you in some way making new friends. Stay positive, your Mum would want you to be happy and enjoying yourself so maybe think about writing out what is stressing you out and try to put a few actions in place as to how you might address them. I often think about my Mum and cant beleive she is gone either, you are not alone and need to be able to talk to people, it really helps

Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

15 Jan 2020 19:32 in response to megant

Hi Megant

I think alot of what you are feeling is perfectly normal when starting university. I felt exactly the same. Overnight you go from the familiarity of home and having long term friends around you to suddenly not knowing anyone and it makes you feel really lonely. I later learnt that most people felt like this to start off with and they just kept it to themselves. 

To make things worse my boyfriend of 2 years died in a car crash 3 months after I started university which made me feel more alone than ever. I didn't have anything in common with the people I was living with and everyone started to decide a few months in who they were going to live with the following year.

About halfway through my first year I thought about dropping out and going home but as all of my friends had gone to university going home wouldn't be the same either. I came to realise running away wouldn't solve my problems and this was something I had to deal with myself. Instead of worrying about making friends I joined up to several different societies because they were things I enjoyed doing and had an interest in. This was a turning point for me, I found that I was starting to enjoy myself and by the end of the year I had a group of friends who I had things in common with and we ended up living together in our second and third year. 

Getting over the grief of losing someone you love is not easy, it is a slow process that takes time. You will have good days and bad days but gradually there are more good than bad. Don't put yourself under pressure to do everything all at once, give yourself time to grieve and gradually the pain will ease.

I know it doesn't feel like it right now but you have the best years of your life ahead of you and going to university will open up many wonderful opportunities - don't let cancer take that away from you.

Take care or yourself and stay strong. Things will get better. 



Struggling with starting university after loss of mum

15 Jan 2020 21:16 in response to megant

Hi Megant,

Welcome back - sorry to read that you lost your Mum but so pleased that you've survived so far and made it to Uni. I can only imagine how hard that may have been.

Try not to take the social side of Uni too seriously - relationships are often transient and the people with the loudest laughs and biggest smiles often hide the deepest depressions. Remember why you went there in the first place, I'll bet it wasn't just for the social life Happy 

Since you first posted on here two years ago you've had the most traumatic experience imaginable in caring for your Mum and watching her lose her fight. You've somehow passed your A levels and made it to Uni - that in itself is so amazing and is worth celebrating. 

I was about your Mum's age when my own Mum died of cancer with 30 more years of life experience and her 10 years of fighting cancer to help prepare me but it was still a lousy experience. You are still at an early stage in the grieving process. Putting Uni to one side for a moment, the feelings you are experiencng are normal symptoms of the grieving process, you'd be abnormal if you didn't feel retched at times. 

Some of us use work or study as a sort of occupational therapy to distract our minds from our problems, if that works for you and you press on to complete your studies, that's great. If it doesn't, don't sweat it as there are lots of options.You can take a break and return to your studies when you're ready. You literally have your whole life to get your degree. 


Best wishes and good luck