Holiday hardships: Student Affairs and Outreach to hold a grief seminar

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Although the holidays can be a time for joy, they can also be a sad and lonely time. Hope for the Holidays is a grief seminar hosted by the University of Saskatchewan’s Student Affairs and Outreach department that aims to help people get through the holidays.

Hope for the Holidays is taking place on Nov. 29 in Marquis 104 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and will have Lisa Grieg, an intake counsellor with Student Affairs and Outreach, provide information and advice to those who are dealing with grief as well as to those who want to support a grieving loved one. Grieg says the holidays can be especially isolating for people who are dealing with loss.

“There’s the expectation that we’re supposed to be joyful and happy and we’re supposed to be grateful for everything, but underneath that, there’s the reality that there’s sadness and hurt,” Grieg said. “There’s that pressure to put on the faces of joyfulness and happiness because you don’t want to take away from what everyone else is sharing. At the same time, you want to be able to feel what you are actually going through.”

Grieg says that it’s just as important for staff and faculty to attend the seminar as it is for students.

“We’ve opened it up to everyone on campus. Of course, we’re here to support students, but staff and faculty are all here to support students and to enhance the student experience,” Grieg said. “There isn’t a prof who doesn’t have a student enter their classroom who is experiencing grief and loss in their life.”

Grieg says that Hope for the Holidays was inspired by an event of a similar nature hosted in Regina by the city’s palliative care program called “Heart 2 Heart for the Holidays.” 

Hope for the Holidays is open to everyone on campus, from students to staff to faculty. It is likely that all students and faculty will have a grieving student in their classroom at some point. The seminar will offer support and advice to help with bereavement, including how to talk about deceased people with their loved ones.

While it can be difficult to offer help to someone who is grieving, Grieg says it is important to remember that they are not in need of fixing. She says that, when we try to fix the person who is hurting, we are often minimizing their emotions.

“It is important to know that those grieving aren’t broken — they’re not for somebody else to fix,” Grieg said. “We want to make it go away, but in turn, we are often silencing those individuals and how they are actually feeling.”

Grief seminars like this one provide useful tools to normalize feelings of grief. Grieg explains why Hope for the Holidays is an important event for the U of S.

“This is an opportunity for us to put something on to be like, ‘Hey, we see you. Here is a place you can come to be who you are, and it’s okay to not be okay,’” Grieg said “We’re here to walk you through that or just to hold that space for you. Acknowledging somebody’s feelings and letting them be seen and be heard has value in itself.”

Anyone looking for additional support can go to Student Affairs and Outreach on the third floor of Place Riel. Students can also contact the Student Wellness Centre at 306-966-5786, over email at student.wellness@usask.ca or through the university website to learn more or to speak with an intake counsellor.

Rebecca Tweidt

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor