By Innes Herdan, Staff Reporter
Starting this semester, the University of Maine Farmington (UMF) is offering a student grief group for students who have lost a loved one. The support group is run by Elyse Pratt-Ranco, the assistant director of Upward Bound.
For Pratt-Ranco, creating this support group was influenced by the passing of her best friend during her senior year at UMF. “I could have used a support group like this,” said Pratt-Ranco, “When everyone’s lives went back to normal and I went back to our apartment, my best friend still wasn’t there… I could have used a support group at that time.”
The UMF grief support group is completely confidential; it is a space for those affected by loss go through their grieving process, whatever it may be for them. This group is not about giving advice, but rather a place to get support from those who have experienced loss as well.
“The whole philosophy behind this kind of work is we all have everything within us that we need to heal from grief, we just need a container to process and express it,” said Pratt-Ranco, “Loss is loss, whether a friend, or grandparent there is universal feeling there. We have this tendency to try and compare ourselves but people can benefit to be with each other and supported by other people who have experienced the same.”
Pratt-Ranco provided a statistic from the National Students of AMF website that stated that one third of all college students are grieving a death that happened within the last year. Also, 38 to 50 percent of college students have lost a friend or loved on in the past two years.
“A surprising number of students each semester deal with grief issues, and sometimes, those issues interfere with their academic goals or cause distress in their relationships,” said Bob Pederson, the director of the Center for Student Development at UMF, “The group situation may not appeal to everyone, but it is a positive setting to both get and give support.”
Pratt-Ranco was trained to lead a grief support group through an organization called The Program for Grieving Children and Teens.
“I started thinking how there is nothing that meets the grieving needs for college students,” said Pratt-Ranco, “Young/Early adults don’t really have anything in the area that could support them.”
“Elyse is wonderful group facilitator and educator,” said Pederson in a recent e-mail interview, “The fact that she is leading this support group gives me confidence that participants will have an enriching experience.”
The Grief Support group meets every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 PM in room 204 on the second floor of the Look House, which can be located by the side entrance. If anybody has any questions on whether this support group is the right fit for them, they can contact Pratt-Ranco at firstname.lastname@example.org or by her office phone at 778-7293.
“I provide plenty of tissues,” said Pratt- Ranco.