Actively Moving Forward group creating new bereavement policy

After senior exercise science major Kate Etter lost her mother while attending college, she found it difficult to return to school, and when she did, she said she struggled to cope with the grief on her own.

“My mother passed away while I was in college here, and I had a rough time coming back to school,” Etter said. “I felt like what I was going through wasn’t acknowledged on campus. I would have loved to have a group to turn to, so I wanted to create that and help find people similar to me with similar situations and have them help me and me help them.”

To help others in similar situations, Etter, who is president of the group, helped create Actively Moving Forward, a grief support group for Marshall students. AMF is a branch of the larger AMF organization, which has groups on college campuses across the country. 

The group started in the spring semester of last year, and Etter said it is helping students recover from the loss of a loved one.

Monica Panwar, a graduate student in the biomedical sciences program, experienced the loss of her father her first year of graduate school.

“During that time, I was seeking a group of people going through the same thing as me,” Panwar, member of the group, said. “On a college campus, it’s hard to find students who are going through something like that because we’re still young people.”

If a member is having a bad day, they have a group chat for the club out. Two or three members will sometimes get together to eat pizza or ice cream. Etter said they assist each other through the good days and bad days by doing anything in their power to help.

“We try to constantly show that we’re there every day as opposed to two days a month for meetings,” Etter said. “A couple times we’ve been to peoples’ houses. One girl just got a dog, so I think we’ll go to a park and play with her dog soon.”

AMF is bringing Grief Awareness Week to Marshall April 23 through April 27. Etter said every branch of AMF across the country will participate and plan to do the same activities each day. The group is also working on creating a new bereavement policy for campus, Etter said. Their goal is to provide students coming back to school after a loss with a tutor, and they want to get in contact with professors to let the students have a few extra days to catch up on work, Etter said.

Anyone can reach out and offer support for AMF, but Etter said they were created to help students going through a loss, or even the terminal illness of a loved one.

“We let anyone in the group that has a death in the family,” Etter said. “Even people that are dealing with a chronic illness, maybe no one has passed in the family, but there’s a terminal illness occurring, and you need help grieving while that’s there.”

Anyone interested in joining or in need of support in the loss of a loved one can contact AMF at [email protected]

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]