By Madeleine Hobbs
The Good Grief Club, a 7-week program for students who have experienced the loss of a person close to them, is looking to begin another session this spring. The group focuses on students who have experienced a loss within the past three months, and who are comfortable speaking about their loss and listening to others’ stories.
Club meetings include a range of activities and conversations that assist students through the grieving process. Ann Cappelli, the school psychologist, described how “we [the group] talked about different thoughts… so they would talk about different thoughts that they had in their head and ways that the grief would come physically. You know, do they get headaches? Do they feel tired? Do they have stomach aches?” To cope with these symptoms, students in the group complete different activities that target their emotions. Cappelli detailed how, during one session, the group “made zen gardens, so, like little shoe boxes with sand and decorative stones and things as a way to cope and have that stress relief.” She said that these activities can help students learn to talk about and cope with their loss in a less stressful way.
Mr. Johns, the dean of students, explained how administration can support a student alongside activities like the Good Grief Club. He stated that “we work with the counselors and we work with the school psychologist to help see if they’re connected to services outside of school. And then to see if we can support those services both inside and outside of school.” Administration at Manheim Township generally plays a large role in assisting students through parts of the grieving process that can affect a student’s academic life. On the topic of a group like the Good Grief Club, Johns said, “any time something traumatic happens, whether it’s loss or some type of physical trauma, people need to understand that there is no one right way to go through it. I think the Good Grief Club allows them to see that they’re not alone in trying to cope with things.”
When these administrative and counseling aspects serve their purpose, they can vastly improves the school lives of students like Arianna Green. Arianna joined the Good Grief Club during its fall session following the loss of her father. “When my dad first passed,” she said, “I thought I could deal mostly by myself ‘cause I’m not a big family person. But going into this new school year, ‘cause I’m in marching band, without him there I realized how much I wanted him there.” Arianna’s experience in the group allowed her to learn how to process her emotions and cope with her changing life. She recounted how, “we did this one drawing where it was of a gingerbread man-type thing, and you colored in where your [emotions] were. It kind of made me realize that I when I get angry it’s mostly in my hands, so when I get angry I like to paint a lot.”
Any students interested in joining the spring session of the Good Grief Club, can meet with Mrs. Cappelli in room 265 or talk with their school counselor. A student’s participation in the group is kept confidential.