Support group started for those suffering loss

by Paul Hyatt, Staff Reporter

When grieving over a significant loss, it is easy for students to isolate and feel alone in their current situation, not knowing where to turn for support.  

Chaplain Mara Bailey and Counselor Alex Roan look to provide a space for grieving students with a support group called Support in Times of Loss.  

The group has already met once and will meet again on Nov. 10 and 24 at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

Bailey recognized the need for a support group as she would receive many names of college students who had recently lost a person close to them.

“I started thinking, how can we be proactive in assuring that students have support in times of loss? So, something we started doing a few is any time we are made aware of a student who has suffered a significant loss,” Bailey said. “I would send them an email on behalf of Simpson to offer condolences, but also to provide resources for them.” 

Bailey said the email did not feel like enough.  

“Losing a parent at any time is hard, but particularly when you are young and away from home,” Bailey said. “Students need to hear that what they are going through is normal.” 

Any student is welcome to come [and] participate, but the group focuses on those grieving from loss. It is open, and we present it in a way that says you get to decide what significant loss means to you, but we did do some very focused outreach to anyone I had to send that email to.”

According to Rohn, the other facilitator of the support group, students can use this space to build connections with other students while learning about their grieving process. They can recognize they are not alone in what they are going through. 

“Grief is hard; really, really hard. When things are hard, we often pull away or isolate, which tends to make us feel worse,” Rohn said. “If we can share space with others, listen, and participate in these types of groups, we can feel relief in knowing we are not alone.”  

Attending the support group is not the same as going to counseling services on campus.  

Support in Times of Loss seeks to create a low-pressure environment for participants.  

“Support groups are much more informal than counseling groups,” Rohn said. “Support in times of loss does not require any student prep beforehand. Our goal in creating this support group was to make it more accessible, less scary, and ultimately more about the students attending helping and supporting each other.” 

According to Bailey, two Simpson students attended the first session. Despite the low attendance, Bailey said the session was successful.  

“What I realized is, even for the few students that came, this space is really important,” Bailey said. “Even if a student were to come every single time, there is still something to gain from spending time to relate with your peers who have been through something similar.”