Community guidance

Actively Moving Forward helps students deal with grief

By Anthony Plescia, Staff Writer

Since the Fall of 2013, Schoolcraft College has provided its students with a well-known grief counseling club. This club is part of a nationwide support group that has chapters at colleges around the country known as Actively Moving Forward (AMF). AMF was founded in April 2006 by Georgetown University student David Fajgenbaum and his friend Benjamin Chesson.

Students of AMFFajgenbaum’s mother, Anne Marie, passed away in 2004 due to a terminal brain tumor she was diagnosed with a year earlier. When AMF first debuted, its initials stood for Ailing Mothers and Fathers and also represented the full name of David Fajgenbaum’s mother. As more and more students coping with the illness or death of a loved one became included in the association, it adopted the name Actively Moving Forward.

Schoolcraft College is one of four schools in Michigan to offer this club and was the second in the state to do so. On campus, AMF offers a peer-to-peer support group for  students who are grieving the illness or death of a loved one. Additionally, a service group is available for all students, which is particularly helpful for students who know people who are grieving.

“Peer to peer support is helpful for students because it helps them know that they are not alone. AMF allows students to surround themselves with other people their age who are going through similar situations,” said Casey Samyn, the chapter leader of the club.

Actively Moving ForwardEach year, the group erects a memory tree for Christmas. The tree features snowflakes that members cut out and write names on in memory or support of a loved one. This year, associates took part in a new event known as the “Day of the Dead” celebration. In this event, participants shared stories and funny moments about their deceased loved ones.

Grief was originally thought to have been a process that  “The problem is many people could overcome, but it is really a unique journey of emotions and reactions. Therefore, AMF provides several helpful tips for students to use to cope with this journey in a healthy way. These tips include eating healthy food, avoiding the use of alcohol or drugs, and speaking with others who have gone through similar experiences. AMF also recommends religious students to contact their places of worship and use the services they offer. While AMF wants its members to know they are not the only ones grieving, it also recognizes that some people who are grieving maybe reluctant to join because they do not want others to know about their problems.

“The problem is many people  don’t want to burden their friends or professors with the heaviness of their grief. This club gives grieving students a safe environment to share their experience,” said faculty advisor Anna Arciero.

Since its inception, AMF has provided counseling to over 1,500 students from more than 170 colleges and universities across the country. Additionally, it provides assistance to people who have friends who are grieving. Even though grief is really a life-long journey that cannot truly be overcome, it is still one that can be made less burdensome to those who are experiencing it. AMF is a leading national grief counseling organization. The club meets every other Thursday at 6p.m. in Student Activities. The next meeting takes place on March 31.