On The Sly: Hope and healing in a time of tragedy
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 12:10
Death and the resulting grieving process are an unfortunate part of life. By this point in our lives, most of us have already experienced death on some level. We know that death is inevitable, that we are not immortal and someday, us, our loved ones and even people we don't know, will no longer be here.
It's not the easiest thing to think about, but it's definitely not made any easier when we have to experience the death of a person who was taken far before her time.
A female student was murdered in one of the residence halls on our campus. It's inconceivable to think that any student, professor or member of the Brockport community would not be affected. It doesn't matter if you didn't know Alexandra Kogut. This tragedy impacts all of us and can have serious impacts on each of us personally.
Some of us may not know how to react to or handle this difficult situation. It's not like there is a time frame of emotions to feel. There's no set schedule for the healing process. We all experience grief in different ways, and as we deal with the aftermath of this tragedy, certain emotions can be triggered by the smallest of reminders.
We're sad. We're angry. We're shocked and we're confused. We're digusted. We're numb. We're empty. As students, we're feeling a jumbled mess of emotions while we figure out how to process all of this.
It's going to be a process. By no means is this an open-and-shut event that we can just move on from. We don't fully understand the situation yet. We have questions, and we may never get answers. It's going to follow us, and we need to know how to grieve, but still move forward.
First and foremost, it's important to allow yourself to grieve. Don't hold back on your emotions. If you're feeling a certain way, don't bottle it up. Cry if you need to, scream if you have to, and most importantly, talk about it. Talk to a counselor. The school has been supportive in supplying plenty of opportunities for students to talk about Alex's death. If you ever need to process it or talk about it, odds are a counselor will be available. If you choose not to seek support on campus, local town and county counselors are available to help you work through this.
If you don't feel comfortable talking to a counselor, you can always talk to your parents or friends. Something unexpected may trigger random emotions. Not talking about how you feel, or how this is affecting you, isn't healthy.
In the aftermath of a death, it's easy to lose interest in activities you normally enjoy. You might have trouble sleeping, eating or concentrating. To make up for this, some people take part in self-destructive activities to make up for the emotions they are trying to avoid.
Drinking in excess or taking drugs to help alleviate the emotional pain you feel is an escape, not a solution. You may think that doing these things feels good, because it helps you forget or not feel anything at all. In no way is this healthy for you. Taking part in self-harm, such as cutting yourself, is another extreme. Instead of involving yourself in these destructive activities, talk about how you're feeling or distract yourself with healthier ones.
Exercise is one way to help blow off steam. Go for a run and try to clear your head. Lift weights and burn energy that way. Have a dance party with your friends just because you need to do something other than sit around and think about what has happened here.
Make sure you're eating well, too. You may skip meals or not have an appetite, or you may feel nauseous. Your body still needs food and nutrients, and though you may not want anything, you need to make sure that you're eating.
Music is an incredible form of therapy. Whatever you enjoy listening to, put it on, lay on your bed and just relax. Sink into the curative powers of melodies and lyrics, and allow yourself to unwind.
It's important to remember as well that though we're all dealing with this together, our situations are different from each other. You can't compare your pain and suffering to someone else's. We all deal with pain differently, and we heal differently too.
There's no denying the ominous feeling we've all experienced on campus these last few days. There's a definite, almost silent, aspect to the campus as we all figure out how to process what has happened. With that being said, students have been all over social media, commenting and posting about our "Brockport family."
It's important that we come together and support each other after what has happened. This campus is relatively small in terms of population, so we all feel the effects of this tragedy on some level. We need to talk about it and express our feelings, but not in a way that fuels rumors and upsets others. Knowing how to respond to ourselves in terms of this is one thing; knowing how to be there for your friends during their times in need is another.
We may have some tough months ahead, and it's important to know how to deal with our loss in order to move forward after everything that has happened. Gone but not forgotten; rest in peace, Alex.
Follow Sylvester on Twitter @ESylv23