Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Healing isn’t linear: The human response to grief

Saturday, February 25, 2023
Graphic by Emma Kratky

On Dec. 3, 2022, two SEMO students, 20-year-old Audrey Smith and 19-year-old Mallory Carter, passed away in a vehicle crash, along with 20-year-old Andrew Marzuco, a sibling of one of the passengers. Three other passengers, Maria Marzuco, Grace Makowiski and Katherine Nations, who were also in the accident, sustained minor injuries.

Junior computer information systems major Landon Brown was friends with both students who passed away. When Brown heard the news, he remembers feeling terrible and unable to sleep. He said he is not one to show emotions, so he used music to express how he was feeling.

Brown created a slideshow of memories to one of Smith’s favorite songs, “Rivers and Roads,” by The Head and the Heart. He recorded his own voice and produced the melody of the song on the piano.

“Besides music, I think one of the biggest things for me has just been keeping to my faith. Audrey and Mallory were both big into their faith, and it was inspiring,” Brown said.

In addition to the dealths of Carter and Smith, SEMO community has also lost professor of computer science Wee Wee Sim in August 2022 and professor of mechanical engineering Jeff Hansen in January 2023.

The Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility (CBHA) counselor Torie Grogan said grief is an internal experience when humans lose someone or something. According to the Mayo Clinic, grief can be experienced from “the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability.”

“We really want to view grief in itself as a journey that will always be with that person. We are looking at ways to build around that journey to provide support and assist them in carrying that grief,” Grogan said.

Grogan said life often doesn’t give time and space for the grieving process, and as a college student, the deadlines never stop and assignments will continue on.

To make room for grieving in day-to-day life, students can utilize resources on campus such as CBHA who provide private, confidential counseling sessions, as well as less formal drop-in sessions with a counseling consultant during Let's Talk, SEMO and a variety of other group sessions.

On Wednesdays at the River Campus and the UC, Let’s Talk, SEMO is provided for all students to stop by to see if they would be interested in counseling sessions or simply to communicate a concern with a counseling consultant.

Director of CBHA Dianah Jenkins said every individual is different when going through the stages of grief.

Jenkins said sometimes, a person can get stuck in the stages of grief, which can cause more stress and pain. Trouble eating or sleeping are two indicators someone might be frozen in the healing process.

As a counselor, Jenkins encourages people to be thoughtful of others because they never know what someone may be going through.

Jenkins suggests students who are trying to support their peers in a difficult situation try to be open, present and willing to listen. She said she thinks a misconception of comforting a friend is to give suggestions, when really, she believes allowing them to open up will help them feel more safe.

“Grief is silent,” Jenkins said. “It’s a thing that you have inside of you, and it can be hard for it to come out.”

To talk about grief, contact the CBHA to set up an appointment by calling (573) 986-6191 or emailing Services are located at Crisp Hall in Room 201-202. The Department of Public Safety is also available after business hours and can be contacted by calling (573) 651-2911.