By Frances Heikes
The Circle of Hope at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School is a group designed to assist those who have lost loved ones with their grieving process. Kübler-Ross’s studies have held that the average individual passes through five stages of grief. The first is denial. This is where the grieving person has accepted the facts but refuses to replan their lives and fully accept the loss. The second stage is anger. This is when the individual recognizes that the denial cannot continue and becomes frustrated. The third stage is bargaining. This stage is where the individual involves the hope that they can avoid grief. The fourth stage is depression. This is when the individual recognizes the morality of their life and despairs at it. The fifth and final stage is acceptance. This stage is where the individual accepts their morality or the future of an inevitable event.
Dr. Hugh Huck, the moderator of the group, said, “Over the past years, the STA community has grown aware that there is a need to address the grief that many of our students are dealing with. So often, students are grieving the loss of a loved one and struggle with their feelings and emotions as they try to balance their school life. These past two years, with the pandemic, there has been greater loss within our community. Besides the loss of loved ones, students face grief through divorce and the break-up of families. Circle of Hope provides a safe space for students to deal with their grief by listening to others on the journey and sharing with one another.”
Circle of Hope is not a club, but a service and ministry provided to our students. Since it is not a club, there are no commitments. Students may come and go as they need. Dr. Huck and Mrs. Rachel Matthews have hosted several meetings, in the chapel, on scheduled afternoons. Upcoming dates will be posted on the school’s internal Blackboard page for students to access. Dr. Huck told us, “We are also assessing new ways in which we can serve students who are struggling with grief. Since this is a new program, it is evolving as we learn from the needs and concerns of our students. The most important thing for everyone to know is that there is a place to go and that there are people who are there to listen. We are there to remind people, as a faith-filled community, that Jesus carried the cross alone so that none of us would have to. That is the gift of the Church.”
The support group first started on December 7th, and has been meeting regularly since. The group meets in the campus chapel at 2:45 p.m. and the meetings typically go on for 15 to 20 minutes of which people can leave at any time.