Marian Students Providing New Grief Resources for Fellow Students and Beyond


Lizzie Schmidt

writing icebreaker to start the discussion

Valerie Fernandez, Marian Student, hosted her first ever “Death Café,” at Ujamaa Bookstore on February 23. The goal of this event was to discuss grief in an informal setting and provide a resource for community members.

Fernandez prefaced this event by addressing that grief is not an easy subject to talk about. With assistance from a representative of an outside organization, Brooke’s Place, community members and students were able to come together to discuss.

Fernandez attended a death café previously, which prompted her to hold one herself. Fernandez, as well as other students, plan to hold their own events as well. Fernandez ideally wants to hold one monthly.

“I attended a death café before,” Fernandez said. “And I thought you know what, I want to do this again.”

The event started with a writing activity where attendees were able to write or draw words or feelings that they associated with death. This was an icebreaker in order to enter the topic we would be discussing.

Followed by the writing activity was a game called Death Deck where members who were in attendance were able to dive deeper into feelings of death and grief.

Finally, Leanna Truitt of Brookes place says they offer a mix of free and paid resources for families and community members in need. Some of these resources include group and individualized therapy sessions, support groups, camps, and school visits. Starting at the age of 3, anyone can attend.

“We recognize grief work looks different everyday for everyone,” Truitt said. “We hope to give people the tools in order to deal with these emotions.”

Fernandez says she hopes to hold these events monthly now with the mission to provide a resource for Marian students. 

To find out more about when these events will be held in the future, visit Ujamaa Bookstore for a printable flyer of events each month, or contact Fernandez at [email protected]

Ujamaa Bookstore located on Flanner House grounds (Lizzie Schmidt)