Nobody should ever have to grieve alone.
The passing of student Cesar Perez and his brother Louis took an emotional toll on his family, his friends and the Pierce College community.
Many gathered at the vigil in the Student Engagement Center on Nov. 25 where they encouraged everyone to unify as a campus and emotionally support his loved ones.
School-based support and increased understanding should be available when a student experiences the death of a friend or loved one.
Each student will be affected differently depending on his or her age, cultural beliefs, personal characteristics, family situation and previous experiences.
Having a grief/bereavement counselor on campus would provide students with an outlet to share their feelings with someone who is willing to listen and help.
According to the school website, the Student Health Center offers personal counseling, crisis intervention, and referrals to external services. Students can call the Student Health Center and make an appointment, but finding a time when they are available can be a daunting task due to a high demand.
By hiring a specific person dedicated to grief and loss, it will give students another option for consultation and allow them to talk to a trained professional sooner than if they were to wait weeks for an appointment.
In the wake of the fatal shooting at Saugus High School on Nov. 14, schools across the country offered consultation and recommended the services of pediatrician and University of Southern California (USC) professor Dr. David Schonfeld, according to the Daily News.
Schonfeld is the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement under the aegis Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. According to the Daily News, Schonfeld held two presentations for parents, meetings with administrators and trainings for staff. They were all designed to help adults support and guide students navigating grief and trauma.
Having someone with the credentials and experience of dealing with trauma such as Schonfeld on campus as a grief/bereavement counselor as needed will give students the chance to consult with a person who better understands their situation.
Smith College in Massachusetts provides students with private and group counseling with a professional psychotherapist in a confidential setting, according to their website. They have a team of mental health counselors and psychiatrists that assist students in meeting their social, emotional and academic goals.
At the University of Utah, the College of Nursing has a program called Caring Connections where they offer a variety of grief support groups throughout the year, according to the school’s health care website.
The groups are eight weeks long and are facilitated by expert clinicians in the fields of social work, nursing, counseling and psychology.
The grief counselor on campus could work closely with the Health Center to form support groups which will help students cope with loss by hearing other students experiences.
Pierce has a chance to help support students’ mental health through education by having a trained, medical professional on campus to serve as a grief/bereavement counselor.