By, Kelly Cwik, Asst. A&E Editor
The Manhattan College Counseling Center is in the process of forming a grief support group for students who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Grief support groups are a way for individuals who have experienced a loss to have a place to discuss with others who have had similar experiences. Grief can be isolating, so a group is a way for individuals to know they are not going through it alone. Having the Grief Support Group at the college allows students to be able to talk with people their own age and know they are not alone on campus.
Nicol Zambrano, Assistant Director at the Counseling Center and the organizer of the Grief Support Group discussed her hopes for bringing this group to MC.
“The hope is that any student on campus who is dealing with a loss will feel supported by other students supported by the Counseling Center and also just by other students,” Zambrano said. “And that they recognize that they’re not alone on campus, that there are students who are grieving, and that it’s okay to not know where to put that sometimes and to just normalize the experience of grief, and to know that this is some- thing that everybody experiences in life, and to be able to open a dialog about it.”
Brother Thomas Franks, college Chaplain and Counseling Center intern, discussed the importance of having a group especially during the pandemic.
“These last couple of years with the pandemic and everything, people are grieving losses of loved ones, loss of normal ways, [and] so many things,” Franks said. “So [the group is] to help everyone feel that they have a space to grieve, to mourn, to share those feelings, and to lift each other up.”
Nuwan Jayawickreme, Ph.D., the Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program and a psychology professor at Manhattan College summed up what grief is.
“Grief is essentially a process where we kind of make sense of loss,” Jayawickreme said.
One can feel grief after a minor loss, such as not getting the part in a play, or in a major way such as the loss of someone close. One may grieve when someone moves away, or after a breakup as well. Jayawickreme went on to explain that there are no set stages in the grieving process.
“Grief can be messy,” Jayawickreme said. “You can feel you’re feeling better, you can come in the last year accepting it and then you may be like, actually no, you’re not coming to terms with it and that you’re actually struggling. Coming to terms with something can take time.”
Jayawickreme believes having a grief support group on campus would be beneficial. However, not everyone grieves in the same way as Jayawickreme explains.
“People grieve in different ways,” Jayawickreme said. “Some people want to talk about it … then there’s some people who are stoic for damages, getting back to their routine, but stuff like getting through the day doing what they’re supposed to do, hopefully whatever rules they have, but at home or on campus.”
Franks describes how he counsels and supports students not only on a mental health level but also on a spiritual level.
“One of the challenges [that comes] whenever we encounter a loss, especially someone very dear to us or we know a sudden and unexpected loss of life, [is that] it evokes a lot of those fundamental or foundational questions we have about human life and the realm of our connection with God and how God may factor into experiences of loss,” Franks said. “So providing a space for people to process those questions and understand the sense of a loving God as we would proclaim from a Christian perspective.”
The group will meet in-person with time and day to still be determined. Anyone who is interested in the group should contact Nicol Zambrano via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Zambrano is available to answer questions about the group as well.
“Anyone interested or even if they have questions about it, don’t be afraid to reach out because even if you decide not to join, just to learn a little bit more about what’s going on, and that it’s a safe confidential group,” Zambrano said.