03 May 2023

Divorce grief

He arrives with a smile and a cheerful “Good afternoon!” The wrinkled shirt on his coffee stained jeans gives him a bit of a sloppy impression. We sit down. I see that his left leg is bouncing up and down very fast and his fingers interlock. He seems nervous. However, the confident expression on his face and loud voice tell the opposite. He starts talking right away: he is not doing well on his studies. He is procrastinating on assignments and lets his study mates do all the work because he doesn’t reply to text messages. “Why is that?” I ask. “I don’t know”, he replies. “I forget and when I think about it again, it is too late. So then I just leave it.” He is skipping lectures and he only opens his study books the week before an exam.

We keep talking. And while I see his confident appearance shift to a somewhat unhappy look, more details are shared. Often he only gets out of bed close to noon, if he comes out of bed at all. Sometimes he takes a shower, more often he doesn’t. He leaves his room only if he has to. Having diner with his roommates is okay, although he isn’t very hungry usually. He quit the gym long ago, and going out with his friends? He’d rather not.

He thought he could just get on with his life. But that seems to be harder than he thought

Two years ago his parents got divorced. His mom cried a lot after his father left. He hasn’t seen much of him anymore since. Too busy with his new girlfriend. He tried to be there for his mother but he also needed to pass his exams at school. When his mom started to do better he thought he could just get on with his life. But that seems to be harder than he thought. I see that his eyes are tearing up. He thinks about that period a lot. He misses his dad and how things were before the divorce. Sometimes he doesn’t know what to do. Then he has thoughts like ‘why would I even try’ or ‘there is no use in anything’.

Carefully, I mention to step by at the online consultation hour of the student psychological counsellors, or to call his general practitioner and ask for a referral to a psychologist. Talking about these things can help. “I think I would like that”, he says, showing a little smile. He looks sad, but relieved. When we say goodbye he promises me to keep me updated on how he is doing. I really hope he will.


Laetitia Kat

Laetitia Kat

Academic Advisor



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