Counselors offer help to survivors

Lindsey Reed

No one remedy can define how students and others cope with tragedy.

But there will be someone to help.

Counseling Services will be offering support to any person or group on campus needing help dealing with the death of three Western students on Saturday.

Staff psychologist Debra Crisp said Counseling Services is encouraging any student who feels upset about the deaths to come and get support.

“Sometimes people automatically feel sadness and others go numb,” she said. “It’s a very individual process.”

Counseling Services is working with Housing and Residence Life to set up counseling in the dorms, especially in the ones where the students in the accident lived, said Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and campus services.

Counseling Services Director Richard Greer said their services are available to all Western students 24 hours a day and seven days a week, regardless of whether or not a tragedy has happened.

Linda Domerese, a public health instructor who teaches a death education class, said denial and shock are common feelings when a loved one passes away.

It can often take a couple of months before people come to terms with what has happened, she said.

“People still tend to speak of their loved ones in the present tense instead of the past tense,” she said.

Tice said everybody on campus is affected.

“Whenever we have a tragedy like this, it touches everybody in the community,” he said. “It will pull all of us together.”

Domerese said students that never knew the students who died can still experience pain.

Events like last year’s space shuttle tragedy and the 1997 death of Princess Diana are examples of how many people can feel affected, she said.

“You can still associate yourself in those instances,” she said. “There’s a bond that strikes the same chord in your heart.”

Domerese said the best way for students to cope could be to go to the funeral, light a candle or write down special memories about the person.

It is best for students to maintain their current schedule because there is security in it, she said.

Students needing immediate support can call the Counseling Services’ 24-hour hotline at (270) 843-4357.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]