Grieving Students Are Given an Outlet

Bridgewater College Creates Support Group for Students to Express Emotions


Cassidy Wagoner, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Bridgewater College began a new grief support group for students to express their feelings. The idea for the group followed the death of first-year student Brandon Fletcher on Sept. 19. Counseling services wanted to create an avenue for students to process their grief, whether for Fletcher or losses they have experienced in their own lives. 

“I think the grief support group will have a positive impact on students by helping them deal with their losses,” said senior Sandy Loredo. “Especially for newer students who may not know a lot of people, or might not have someone to talk to.”  

The support group allows students to express their feelings in a safe environment without having to go through the process of intake. The process of talking to a counselor can sometimes take longer, depending on the waitlist at the college’s counseling office. 

With the new support group, students can essentially skip the line and speak to other students who may be going through the same things. The group is for all different types of grief or feelings.

“The support group is open to any kind of grief, especially with what is going on right now with the pandemic,” said Resident in Counseling at Bridgewater College Garrett Serrels. “It can mean loss of many things like; socialization, connection, a family member, a friend, change in lifestyle, job or school. It addresses grief in a broad sense and offers a safe environment to let student’s know they are not alone,” 

Grief can come in many forms and this support group is a way for students to address their grief. The counseling office believes that it gives those feelings validation to know other people may feel the same way or are even willing to listen. 

“Many people don’t validate their feelings, it’s normal to feel these ways. Like many people did not get to graduate from college, that is still impacting people,” said Senior Clinician at Bridgewater Becky Snead. “These are losses, it is sad to lose these things. The loss of being normal, and those normal milestones aren’t happening.”

The support group is provided in a safe and open environment with a counselor present. The counselor acts as a facilitator, which offers the opportunity to get feedback from them as well. Depending on the grief that each student is experiencing, their feelings will be recognized. 

“The group allows you to acknowledge your feelings and having the help of a peer or a facilitator is very helpful in addressing grief, loss, and anxiety. The group provides more of an opportunity really to be recognized for what they are experiencing,” said Serrels. 

The group meets virtually, once a week, on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. The session lasts an hour and any student wanting to participate is welcome. In order to be involved, all students need to do is send an email to counseling services at BC and the virtual meeting link will be sent.