"Words without poetry lack passion; words without passion lack persuasion; words without persuasion lack power."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Behind My Red Reporter Glasses: Thoughts On Student Grief

Have you recently lost a loved one?

Twenty-two to 30 percent of college students have lost a loved one in the last year, according to a study by David Balk.

I spent the last week and a half talking to various specialists on the subject of grieving, as well as students who recently lost someone, or who are still grieving, years after their loss. The information I came across was helpful, difficult to hear and impacting.

I spoke with a student who lost her brother in April of this year. Her grief was very real and transparent. She had one of the sweetest spirits I've encountered, but she bravely described the circumstances that have been the toughest throughout her loss. She said people often meant to offer consoling advice such as "it's been three months, smile and be happy," and "Ben would want you to be happy." 
The student continued by describing the pain those phrases inflicted, rather then the positive affect they were meant to have.

Local Licensed Professional Counselor, Travis White, emphasized the importance of a good support system after the loss of a loved one, but he also offered the following advice to the friends of the person grieving: Listen. Just listen.
White explained five common stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Although he said everyone will go through the phases in different orders, and some may not experience every stage. 

Another Student I spoke with lost a loved one four-and-a-half years ago. She described her situation in detail, mentioning a period of depression following the loss. She said it affected her academically- she didn't return back to school for a week, and even still, it was hard. 
Presently, this student is a senior in college, and the death of her loved one motivates her positively in her academics and career goals.

Losing a loved one during college is especially difficult because student are often: geographically distant from their usual support systems, coping with academic pressures and forging one’s autonomy, according to the Students of AMF research.

Both students mentioned above offered the following advice to someone who has recently lost someone: "Don't blame yourself," and "allow yourself to grieve."

What has been your experience with grief? How have you dealt with it? 

To read the article the post is based off of, and to find out more about these students experiences with grief, check out the  Patriot Talon this Tuesday, Sept. 13. Their stories will engage you, and I believe, move you.    Also, check out LPC, Chris Legg. He recently posted a series of posts concerning grief. 

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