This weekend, I attended a memorial service for a friend and colleague that had passed away very suddenly in December. To say that I was shocked to hear the tragic news is an understatement. A deep sadness set in after I got over the initial stages of shock and denial. At that point, it definitely became difficult to keep a composed face when around others, particularly those in residence. The truth is sometimes I simply wasn’t able to.
Fortunately, I wasn’t left alone to grieve and for that I was extremely thankful. It was difficult being alone in the weeks following this tragic news and I was really grateful that there were others in residence that felt the same. That being said, I didn’t actually want to talk to anyone; I just wanted to spend time with friends and colleagues for their physical comfort. That certainly wasn’t the case for some who sought to grieve by talking about how they were feeling, while others preferred to grieve alone. During this time, I came to realize that everyone’s grieving process was different and that a wide spectrum exists for the manner in which students cope.
School started back up far too quickly and I was still struggling to cope with this sudden loss. I’m sure others who have experienced loss can understand the difficulty of trying to continue on with ‘business as usual’ while still grieving. I know that I’ve certainly felt overwhelmed at times over the last few weeks, but something I’ve also realized is that I don’t have to go through this alone. There are numerous resources available on campus to help grieving students.
CAPS is probably the most obvious service available for short-term counseling on a wide range of emotional and psychological problems. Your College Registrar can also be helpful to students who do not feel capable of keeping up with their academic demands given their grief process. This could take the form of a Registrar’s Note to a student’s professors, help with deferring exams or term work, or even advising on withdrawing from courses. The Multi-Faith Centre also offers not only the physical space for any spiritual needs while grieving but also many programs centered on grief support and memorials. I also recently learned that there are monthly Grief Talking Circles for students who have experienced a loss. This drop-in support group provides students with a safe space in order to share stories and learn how different students deal with their grief. Finally, a special Grief Support Event will be taking place on Monday, January 28th from 6-8pm in the Academic Success Centre (in the Koffler Student Centre) to share grief stories over dinner. It certainly sounds like a great opportunity to identify with other students experiencing grief and, most importantly, know that we’re not alone in struggling to cope with our losses.
In all honesty, things will never be the same and I doubt I’ll ever be able to go back to living life as it was before this tragedy. However, that may not necessarily be a bad thing because healing means remembering and celebrating our memories of the ones we’ve lost. Learning to accept and deal with grief from loss is the first step in this healing process.
“Grief is a necessary passage and a difficult transition to finally letting go of sorrow – it is not a permanent rest stop.” – Dodinsky