Ryan Chartrand

The despair of loss rains down upon me, drenching me in its icy-cold grip. The fog of depression creeps slowly into my mind, dulling my thoughts, making me not want to care.

I pull the covers up over my head, sleeping excessively. I cry until the salt is depleted from my tear ducts, my eyes are as dry as old bones and until the next fresh wave of tears comes.

I do not want to get out of bed. I do not want to go to school. I simply do not want to function.

My friend is gone, I am out of my mind with grief and man, does this suck, BAD.

Within the past 20 months, I have survived the loss of six people who were close to me, in one form or another.

Robert, death due to natural causes; Michael, suicide; Keith, killed by thugs in uniform; Carl, cancer; Tommy, death from kidney failure; and Faith, death due to a life of excess.

When you are a student dealing with classes, peer pressure and all the rest that goes with campus life, the loss of a friend or loved one is extremely difficult to cope with, without a doubt.

Along with any loss follow the inevitable five stages of grief.

Stage one: denial. The first thing that went through my mind was that this person is still here and he is going to come through that door any second now. But it was not so. The seconds grew into minutes. Minutes into hours. Hours into days and so on.

Stage two: anger. This emotion follows immediately on the heels of the realization the person is really gone. You want to be so mad at the departed for leaving that you actually find fault with him or her. Irrational, yes, but it is a reality that eventually burns itself out.

Stage three: sadness. At this point in the process, the emotional response is almost of a melancholy sort. However, the healing is taking place even though it may not exactly feel like it.

Stage four: guilt. The first thought to occupy the mind at this point is what you could have done to prevent the loss. The answer is nothing. Cancer is cancer. Suicide is suicide. Death is death. In other words, do not blame yourself for actions out of your control.

Stage five: acceptance. At this point, things are more in focus (pretty much). You begin to accept the loss and say goodbye in your mind, your heart and your life. You accept the reality of the entire situation and learn to eventually move on with your life.

The key here is you must learn to process each emotion as you go through it. You have to feel and experience each stage individually before moving to the next.

But when dealing with these five stages, as I lost loved ones at different points in the grieving process, I ended up really confused and felt totally out of place. At that point, I came to the realization that I could not handle this alone. I needed help and went to seek it out.

So the questions remain. Where can you go? Who can you talk to? What options are available?

Fortunately, the options are many and they are easily accessible to the student population.

The Cal Poly Health Center has counselors on hand at no cost to students. I went and used this option when I realized things felt like they were spinning out of control.

Hospice of San Luis Obispo County is another great source available if needed. They offer survivor group counseling and one-on-one assistance if necessary.

Hospice Partners of the Central Coast is also an option. They have a 24-hour hotline with professional service volunteers always at the ready.

If you have experienced the loss of someone close to you, remember some simple things. Grieving is absolutely OK. So is confusion, guilt, anger and all the rest of the emotions that fall into place accordingly.

But seek help from the available professionals if you think you need it. Seek help even if you think you don’t need it.

It could truly make a difference. It did with me.

Daniel Seguin is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily reporter.

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