New LifeGroup helps students with grief

Grief Support group leaders (L-R_ Katie Milliken and Ashley Dean)

The Grief Support Group is a new LifeGroup at Southern Adventist University this semester, founded by master’s in clinical mental health counseling students Ashley Dean and Katie Milliken. 

LifeGroups are small groups led by students that meet once a week, according to Associate Chaplain Anna Bennett. 

“Students often feel alone navigating questions about faith and major transitions in college,” Bennett said. “LifeGroups provide opportunities for students to belong in spiritual small group communities, to personally behold God, and to become empowered as disciple makers of Jesus Christ.”

The Grief Support Group is an open space for students to learn about grief, coping mechanisms, and stress-relieving, according to Dean. 

Milliken said that the group is not solely for those who have lost a loved one. 

“It can be a loss of a relationship, a job, freedom due to COVID…[and] they are having to transition into a new type of lifestyle or different way of life,” Milliken said.

While the group’s main audience is Southern students, anyone outside of Southern is welcome to join as well, according to Milliken. 

“We’re not going to turn anyone away,” Milliken said. “If you want to come and heal and grow with us, that’s great.”

According to Dean, the group currently has eight members. Only one of them is not a Southern student. 

It meets via Zoom every Tuesday at 7 p.m., beginning with a devotion and prayer before studying a certain stage of grief and its coping mechanisms, according to Dean. Members also share their past or present experiences with each stage. 

Dean explained that the Grief Support Group was started in response to unmet needs on campus. 

“There wasn’t a grief support group last semester, and when COVID and everything happened, there was a bigger need for it this semester than before,” Dean said. “I know a lot of people must be grieving or feeling upset during this time.”

Students can join by visiting and clicking on “Join Here.”

Katie Milliken and Ashley Dean, leaders of The Grief Support Group. Photo by Xander Ordinola.

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