Lives Lost, But Not Forgotten
UB community remembers students who have passed
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
“I was afraid, and I wished I had let people help me more from the start, told them that yes, I did need help,” Samantha said. “I haven't fully [moved on] yet. I found scuba [diving], something that made me feel alive for the first time since Nick died. I can’t even describe how therapeutic that’s been for me.”
UB hosts the Nick Orrange 5K run each year in Nick’s memory; each year, the community gathers to fundraise for a memorial scholarship in his name. Samantha and her grandfather are also in charge of a scholarship given to students at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, a local high school, to help them grow and develop in their studies at the school.
“He would've loved [the scholarships],” Samantha said. “He planned to donate to the schools if he ever became rich.”
Brotherhood beyond blood
Kevin Breen was a junior history major who was also involved in the ROTC program; he died in a car accident on the way back to UB at the end of spring break this March.
Four of his fellow ROTC members were driving home from a drill competition in Baltimore when they received an accidental pocket-dial phone call from the passenger in Breen’s vehicle. Hours later, the group received a text message confirming Breen’s death.
Jacob Greenwald, a fellow ROTC member, remembers the moment as feeling “unreal.”
“I looked and read the text and, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem real,” Greenwald said. “I felt like it was a big joke at first; I knew it wasn’t, but that’s what I was hoping it was – just a terrible, terrible prank.”
It’s now been a month since Breen passed away, and Greenwald said the pain lessens as each day passes. He surrounds himself with members of ROTC and Pershing Rifles – a collegiate military fraternal organization that Breen was also a part of – and takes comfort in the thought that he isn’t suffering alone, that others around him are dealing with the same pain.
“[Breen] always used to wear his fleece cap everywhere – always,” Greenwald said. “And whenever I’m in uniform and I have to wear mine, I just look at it and think: ‘Yep, that’s Kevin.’”
A little extra help
Grief is a very painful and individual thing that impacts a person physically, emotionally, psychologically, and behaviorally, said Liz Snider, the clinical director of UB Counseling Services.
Counseling Services often provides group-counseling sessions to students, faculty, and staff following the loss of a loved one. Many of the sessions target different types of loss – from death of a parent to death of a peer or even the loss of a relationship.
The group sessions and individual sessions are open to currently registered students and those currently employed at the university. Counseling Services also provides free consultation services to anyone connected to the UB community; parents and other family members can reach out to the office and be connected with grief resources within the Buffalo area.
“For most people, the tendency is not wanting to move toward it or into it, but counseling certainly can help,” Snider said. “It can be a place they can go to and focus on what they need to talk about with that issue for a period of time.”
Student Affairs also hosts a remembrance service at the end of the spring semester to memorialize the students who passed away throughout the year. Family members, friends, and all members of the university community are invited to attend.
One family member per student is given five minutes to speak about his or her loved one, or someone from Student Affairs will present on the family’s behalf. Each student’s name is engraved into the side of the Student Union, and a luncheon follows. This year’s service will be held next Friday.
Grief is a process, not an event, according to Snider. The process differs from person to person, and whether the process is long or short, it does get better with time, she said.
“I do understand now, in a way I couldn’t possibly have done in the months after Jonah’s death, that people have an uncanny ability to heal,” Billy Dreskin said. “Not completely, of course, but enough to carry on with life, to even enjoy it again. We won’t ‘move on,’ I don’t think. I simply won’t ever leave my son behind. But I’ll ‘carry on’ – I’ll carry him with me always.”