Posted by: rcieri | August 2, 2009

New student organization helps campus deal with grief

Stage of Greif

Before an individual can heal, he or she must go through the stages of grief. Although the process is different for everyone, the steps can generally be grouped into these five categories.

by Rachel Cieri, April 14, 2009

With the deaths of both a student and a faculty member last week, the pain of loss has hit campus hard. But HEART, a new student support group, is here to help deal with the pain.

When senior Heather Broughton lost her father sophomore year, she said it seemed like her entire world had been turned upside down. She went right back to school after a period of mourning, but things were not the same.

“My friends were treating me differently. They didn’t know what to say to me,” Broughton said.

After talking to Counseling Services, Broughton began looking for support groups and found that Elon had none. Her search took her to a hospice in Burlington, where she found she was the support group’s only member.

“I thought, ‘I know I’m not the only one who’s lost someone,'” Broughton said. “Other students told me about what they had been through when they found out.”

It has been almost a year in the works, but HEART is now in its developmental stage, holding bi-weekly interest meetings to build the group.

Even with the campus’s recent losses, the group is still small. Its existence is being made known mostly through word-of-mouth.

“If you see a flier that says, ‘Join this support group,’ it can be intimidating,” Broughton said. “People will have to feel comfortable before they sit down to talk to us.”

Chaplain Phil Smith often talks with students who have experienced a death in the family and he’ll often recommend that students try joining HEART.

Counseling Services offers the opportunity for students to speak with professionals at no cost, but, as Broughton explains, speaking with peers provides an entirely different experience.

“I love what they do,” Broughton said of Counseling Services, “but it’s not the same as being able to talk to people in your shoes, in the same place you are, who are your age.”

Aside from just talking to one another, HEART holds service events that are named in memory of students’ lost loved ones. And students don’t have to be members of the group to join in.

“It’s slow starting, but there are so many who need it. You never really know how many do need it, but we’ll be there for the people who do,” Broughton said.

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