The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Coping with loss

Everyone copes with loss differently, and the BSM community does its best to support those who are grieving during the healing process.

April 11, 2017

Loss is something that everyone will experience at one point in their life. For some, it can come sooner, while for others it could come much later, but nevertheless, loss is painful, tragic, and heartbreaking. In the end, coping and dealing with loss can end up defining a person and a community.

Life can dramatically change after the loss of a loved one. Senior Lukas Freund lost his dad, a significant figure in his life, just last year and this loss still affects his life daily. “It’s just a lot lonelier, quieter and everything seems slower,” Freund said.

Similar to Freund, science teacher Mr. Tanner Stevens lost his father recently. Not only is life different, but it also proves to be difficult to manage the absence of that person. “Anytime after you lose someone really close to you, the first time you do anything after that is just challenging, even if it’s not directly with my dad,” Stevens said.

Caroline Murphy
“The first time baseball season is going to start up again, and I just want to talk to my dad about how the Twins will do this year.” -Tanner Stevens
KE Design by Will Krane

After the death of a loved one, it can be challenging to stay concentrated and keep everything organized. When people are grieving, they can feel their lives turning sluggish and stagnant; however, the outside world refuses to slow down. “At first, it was really hard because I couldn’t think of really anything else that was going on. We found out that she had stage four cancer less than a week before she died. So it was very quick and there was a lot of me checking my phone for messages, calling people, stepping out of class, and then after she died, trying to get her funeral set up, managing my own children and trying to keep up with work. I pretty much didn’t do any grading for a month, which was kind of bad, but I couldn’t focus enough to do that,” english teacher Ms. Tiffany Joseph said.

However, through coping the weight of the loss can start to lighten. Coping can take place in a variety of forms, as all people are different and nobody feels or experiences loss the same exact way. “[When my father passed away], I was at a place where I wanted everyone to know, I’m ready for all of the questions that there may be because I am at a place where I am very ready. It’s a really good coping mechanism for me. Through talking about it, it gets easier to talk about,” sophomore Xiomara Guzman said.

Caroline Murphy
“The only thing lacking is the students, which I feel like needs work, more education on how to deal with this kind of situation and what to say and what not to say.” -Xiomara Guzman
KE Design by Will Krane

Coping can be made easier by support from one’s community. BSM truly tries to help the student body with their coping and attempts to meet students where they are, while also trying to adjust it based on each person’s individual experience.“I think one thing that we do well is trying to meet students where they are at. Some kids want to talk about it, some kids don’t want to talk about it. Some kids want a lot of people around them, some kids want to be left alone. It’s kind of amazing how each situation is different, so knowing our student population as individual students and knowing what they need and giving them what they need I think is what we do well in times of loss,” senior high Assistant Principal Ms. Mary Andersen said.

One specific way that BSM tries to assist students with loss is through support groups. Mr. Mike Jeremiah, the campus minister at BSM, started one to provide students with opportunities to communicate about their feelings while also supporting and listening to each other. “So that group is…a bunch of other people that have family problems, and I was there because my parents divorced, my dad had cancer for four to five years and then my dad died. It just is helpful to talk through that and help other people,” Freund said.

Along with helping the students, the teachers also try to aid each other in times of loss. There are not necessarily concrete and specific support groups like the ones for the students, but the faculty and staff acknowledge each other’s pain and try to help in any way possible to make life easier. “BSM has been really great. Everyone has been really supportive and encouraging me to take as much time as I needed off to focus on the things that matter,” Joseph said.

Caroline Murphy
“This is a hard job to do when you’re grieving because you have to be present for other people and it’s hard to be present for other people when you’re trying to focus on what’s going on in your own life.” -Tiffany Joseph
KE Design by Will Krane

Even with all of the support and help that BSM offers, just the reality of loss and death can be uncomfortable. Due to the lack of communication about death, students, teachers, or anyone can say something and unintentionally harm someone who just experienced a loss. “Death is such a taboo topic that people don’t know what to say or how to react. You just kind of have to take a deep breath and remember it’s from a loving place and they just don’t know what to say,” Guzman said.

Loss is painful and overall, hard to deal with. However, the BSM community truly tries to connect with each other while also supporting and helping the student, teacher, or family that has lost someone. “The strongest I see the BSM community is in times like that when there has been a loss, families in need, or crisis situations. I am so proud of how the BSM community comes together in support and love for one another and for people experiencing that. It’s beyond words. I’ve been here forever, I started here the second year of the merger, back in 1975. I’ve seen many of these times over the years and every single instance this community has rallied and come together in support. I am so proud of everything this school does,” Jeremiah said.

 

Click here to see a collection of remembrance for the BSM community’s losses.

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