Women’s group seeks to help students dealing with loss


(From left) Jesica Rapier, a clinical psychology graduate student, and Mansi Mehta, a clinical psychology graduate student, are two founding members of a new on-campus women’s grief and loss group.

Michael Lopick

The Psychology department will be forming a group to help female students deal with the loss of loved ones and the grieving process.


“College is the time when most students start experiencing their first loss,” said Jesica Rapier, one of two psychology graduate students heading the group. “Given the added stress of college, such as being away from home and established support systems, dealing with loss can be very difficult.”


Up to 30 percent of college undergraduates can be in the process of grieving, according to a 2011 study published by David Balk, director of the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College of the City University. Balk’s research also addressed common myths linked to gender and how students experience loss.

Balk found that women are often perceived as better managers of their emotions which causes people to step back and let them process their feelings alone. When women do speak up, Balk noted they might be labeled as “needy” or “overly emotional.”


Rapier believes the Women’s Grief and Loss Group will help members dispel these myths and learn to find their voices as they struggle with loss.


“There are myths about grieving specific to women, like women handling their emotions better,” Rapier said. “The truth is, most suffer their grief in silence, and it has a huge impact on every aspect of their lives.”

The group will meet once a week for six weeks. Sessions begin with the creation of new group and personal missions. These are meant to help guide the group’s progress and outline what individual members hope to accomplish.

Every week, the group will cover a different topic such as the “myths of grieving” to focus the group’s discussion, Rapier said.


Members will be asked to bring a poem, song or other piece of literature they find meaningful each week to be used at the conclusion of the session.

Throughout the six weeks, members will put down their thoughts and feelings in a journal provided to them. The journals act as a way for members to organize their thoughts and prepare for sessions.

Madeline VonStein, a sophomore global communication major, was curious about the group and believed that it has potential to help other students through tough times.

“I very recently lost a family member, and I had a hard time expressing myself to friends and family,” she said. “I think a group like that could’ve helped me open up. It’s weird, but it can be a lot easier to talk about hard things with people you don’t know.”

Nickie Myers, a sophomore art education major, believes having an all-female group will make members feel at ease and let down their guard.

“I don’t think it would be impossible to open up in front of guys,” she said, “ but knowing that everyone there shares a similar perspective to mine would make me feel much more comfortable.”

Students interested in participating in the group can contact Raiper or another graduate assistant who will then interview them to see if they would be appropriate for the group.  

After the short interview, students will be asked to fill out paperwork to determine if they are appropriate for the group. Then, the student will be contacted if they are accepted.


“It is our hope that we can help these women move through their grief and live in this new world, while still leading their lives as they had before the loss,” Rapier said. “Grieving people often feel like they don’t need therapy, but they need support, and that’s what we hope to offer.”

Contact Michael Lopick at [email protected].