Grief and Loss

Student Perspectives on Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss perspective 1:

During my freshman orientation and the first few days of school, my Grandma became ill and passed away. The support that I was given from the college was amazing. My Collegiate Fellow (CF) was very supportive, emailing faculty to let them know what was going on so I wouldn't have to explain it. My section mates were wonderful; they bought me a teddy bear and were always there to listen. My professors offered extensions for my work and allowed my absence from class so I could spend time at the hospital. Counseling Services made sure I knew there were people available if I needed to talk. The support I received was greater than I could have imagined, especially as a freshman who had only been there a few days. This experience made me so glad that I had chosen Gustavus.

Grief and Loss perspective 2:

Jack committed suicide over Christmas break during my junior year in high school. He was my "locker buddy" throughout high school and we were baptized and confirmed in the same small Lutheran congregation. I had years of memories vaulted away where his presence was a mere staple of daily life. His impetuous death devastated me, but I made it through the remainder of my high school career with the support of my family and friends and the basic march of time. College stood as a fresh chance for me; a place where I felt comfortable and yet held no ugly reminders of the past. Fall term went very well. I met plenty of friends and even fell for a stand-up guy. The busy pace of life during those first four months of school was challenging but I enjoyed the rigors.

Then came January. I decided to take a course on campus for credit; the class was entitled "On Death and Dying." The entire month sailed by with general ease until the last day of class when my professor presented a documentary centered on the grieving process. Suddenly I was thrown back into the depths of shock and anger. On the screen flashed images of those left behind to make sense of the abrupt harshness that looked all too familiar. I left the classroom in emotional havoc and a friend guided me to the closest sanctuary, Christ Chapel. I realized there and then that no matter where I studied, or who I knew as classmates, or where I called home, my grief would be with me. But it would not always be a grief that turned my heart into burning chaos. My loss has helped me discover a strength that has bloomed into the compassion and virtues that I now know stand firm for they have survived the bleakness of sorrow.

As your children go off to college to pursue a higher education, please remember that every minute leading up to that journey will go with them. College is a time for personal development and discovery but those tasks can be overwhelming at times. Remind your child that there are always people to talk to along the way. No one is ever alone. The Gustavus campus offers Peer Assistants as well as numerous counselors for the student body. At any time, either a classmate or a licensed psychologist is ready to listen.