The Journey of Love and Loss
Maintaining relationships, working, and worrying about finances, all while attending college can feel incredibly overwhelming. Facing the loss of a loved one or a close relationship can make these important parts of life seem trivial.
Stephanie Stokes, a senior general agriculture major at West Texas A&M University, suffered a great loss during the beginning of her college career. As a freshman, Stokes was an involved and hardworking student. She joined a sorority, was dedicated to her studies, and even landed a great part-time job.
Stokes was working her normal shift when she got a call that changed her life forever. Her mom explained that her dad had a heart attack and she needed to come home. He passed away two days later.
Grief affects people in many different ways. For Stokes and her family, it turned their world upside down. Their family was extremely close and did everything together; they had a day-to-night routine that constantly revolved around family. They travelled to stock shows, took mountain vacations, and did so many other things together.
“It was us four, and that was it,” Stokes said.
She struggled to cope with the drastic changes that came from a tragic loss. She stayed busy with school and work, but after some time, she felt needed to talk to someone. The counseling services offered at WTAMU seemed like a good place to start.
Abbie Roe, a junior musical theatre major at WTAMU, had an incredibly tough start to her time at in college. Within her first two semesters, she had to overcome her parents’ divorce, a painful break up, and the unexpected loss of a friend. After all this began weighing on her, she knew she had to go seek help.
“I knew that I was at a low point,” Roe said.
WTAMU offers various resources to students that go through loss and hardships. Individual, one-on-one counseling is available, as well as different support groups. The two current support groups offered on campus focus on LGBTQ and anxiety. Dayna Schertler, director of Student Counseling Services at WTAMU, explained that anyone who wanted to create a new support group could do it. Of course, it would all depend on student interest.
“If there are enough students that want to do it, then we’ll have one” Schertler said.
After going through these painful fragments of life, it leaves people with more wisdom than what they started with. Stokes and Roe had to go through incredibly hard times but gained a lot of wisdom that can be used to help others who will go through similar experiences.
While intimidating and uncomfortable at first, Counseling Services became an ideal haven for Stokes to process her grief in a healthy way. She often recommends the services to friends and classmates at WTAMU based on her positive experience.
“For a while, I didn’t want to after having that experience [the loss of her father], I believe that’s a resource people should tap into,” Stokes said.
Having sought help from Counseling Services, Roe explains that it is okay to talk to somebody and to get help.
“Talking it through with someone who doesn’t know anything about me, it’s easier,” Roe said.
One of the most important things to remember when experiencing grief is that you are not alone. There is always someone to talk to whether that is a friend, family member, or a counselor. Both Stokes and Roe also encouraged those grieving to take their time in finding either support or healing.
“Don’t give up . . . it’s gonna be very hard for a while but you find comfort,” Stokes said.Roe agreed. “Allow yourself to feel in order to take steps forward,” she said. “It’s okay not to be okay.”
By: Laura Putts Staff Writer
Art work created by Hailee Cox