MU Today News and views especially for the MU Community

Dave's Blog

View all posts

Grieving together

by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

We will look back on this academic year as one of the most emotionally taxing in recent memory at Manchester. In December we lost Chris Garber, a beloved colleague, and Tony Loera, a wonderful student. And then yesterday, the unimaginable: We lost three students and are praying for a fourth who is hospitalized after a horrific and senseless automobile accident.

Last night several hundred students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to grieve together. We started in Petersime Chapel and, when it became obvious that the space was going to be far too small to accommodate those who were coming, we moved to the Switzer Center. The procession from the chapel to the Switzer Center was somber. As we walked, I felt connected to those I could see in front of me and supported by those who were following.

The gathering reflected the best of Manchester and, for those who knew them best, the spirit and personalities of those who died. There was a lot of crying – boxes of Kleenex were passed around the room – but we also laughed often as student after student told stories about the friends they’d lost. I shared with the group that we’ve received dozens of emails, tweets, texts and phone calls expressing support and condolences from individuals and groups off campus.

These are difficult times, but none of us is going it alone. Students and families are surrounded by close friends who are in turn supported by friends of friends, and all of us who experience Manchester as our extended family are held in the embrace of graduates, neighbors and those around us.

You won’t find me saying there is any good that comes out of these losses. They are awful and painful and difficult. They do, though, reveal the good that is woven into who we are, that which makes us a wonderful, supportive community. I am grateful today for all of the good at Manchester.