Learning Through Loss

This week, as part of Mental Health Month, we are sharing with you another piece of #Tools2Thrive: Finding the Positive After Loss. Grief is something that touches us all as humans, and this topic may be particularly relevant during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked one of our STIGMA and Peer Support student leaders, Mackenzie Ryan, OMS I, to share some of her thoughts and personal experiences on the topic of grief and loss.

Mackenzie Ryan, OMS I

“I have to say that I have been very fortunate in that I have not directly experienced a loss during my first year of medical school. I have, however, experienced loss and if you all would allow me I’d like to share my experience with you.

During my sophomore year of undergrad, the night before my organic chemistry final, I received a call that I can still vividly remember the words to. On that call, a friend had to break the news to me that one of my best friends had died in a car accident. It’s the kind of loss that you can never see coming and it slaps you in the face, hard. I felt like I couldn’t function. I definitely couldn’t study for my final. I was fortunate enough to go to college near my hometown and I was able to seek solace that night in both my family and his other close friends.

I wish throughout that time I wouldn’t have let my pride get in the way and I would have reached out for professional help. I wasn’t aware that there were academic resources for me (I could have moved my final) and I didn’t seek out help from our school’s counselor because I felt like I was weak if I did so. I now know that reaching out for help may have been the strongest thing I did in that time.

Thankfully, I was eventually able to work my way through it, mainly by focusing on the good memories we had together and doing one of our favorite hobbies—singing. There are times when it is still a heavy burden on me; when I still miss him more than I could ever put into words. Times when my chest aches. Sometimes it is still easy to bear this alone and to shut myself off. But I have learned, through this journey of loss (and that’s what I truly believe it is, loss and grievance is not linear), to reach out to my support systems. If you take anything away from my story, please remember this: it is not weak to seek out help. It is so unbelievably strong. Loss is, in my experience, one of the most difficult live events to face. Please remember that you’re not alone and you don’t have to face it alone.”

Mental Health Resources
For behavioral health emergencies, 24/7 support can be accessed by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, texting HELP to the Crisis Textline 741-741, calling 911, or visiting your nearest emergency room.

Colorado Campus Resources
Kären Robinson, LPC
Mental Health & Wellness Counselor
Click here to schedule an appointment with Kären.
Click here for Virtual Drop-in hours Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-4 p.m.
24/7 Emergency and Referral Hotline Student Linc 1-888-893-LINC (5462)

Southern Utah Campus Students
Kathy Killian-Harmon, LMFT
Mental Health & Wellness Counselor
435-668-7996 / kkharmon@rvu.edu
Zoom or chat on Teams site.
24/7 Emergency and Referral Hotline Student Linc 1-888-893-LINC (5462)

RVU Faculty and Staff
EmployeeConnect program for mental health counseling services: Call Guidance Resources 888-628-4824. Guidance Resources also provides legal consultation, financial consultation, work/life consultation regarding childcare, eldercare,  and health advocacy.

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