Light peered through the glass windows of the Ceddia Union Building’s Great Hall Wednesday, shining on the vibrant butterflies colored by students in honor of Grief Awareness Day.
Students were encouraged by graduate assistants from the counselling center to visit the grief awareness table to decorate a butterfly and to recognize someone they have lost.
Shippensburg graduate assistant running the event, Jenna Alba said that it is important to experience grief, especially college students. For college students specifically, “dealing with grief may take longer because they are away from their family,” Alba said.
Students were reluctant at first to approach the table, but began to smile as the graduate assistants explained what the event was all about.
Another Shippensburg graduate assistant working the table, Eghonghon Omiyi was pleased that she had the opportunity to provide a safe outlet for students to express their feelings.
“Some students I spoke with were glad that they could remember their favorite memory of the ones they lost,” Omiyi said. “This was a beautiful experience for me.”
While some butterflies were covered with written memories, many were simply colored. The graduate assistants encouraged grieving students to read some information located on their poster from the Children’s Grief Awareness Day organization. They also had information pertaining to students who know someone that is going through a period of grief.
“Don’t try to have an agenda,” said Alba, referring to giving support to a grieving friend, “just be there for support.”
This was the first time both graduate assistants led the grief awareness day event. They were inspired by the participation they received from Shippensburg students and hope to do more similar outreach events in the future.