Sometimes words cannot sufficiently express the human emotion of grief. This week, students decorated paper bags in remembrance of loved ones who died as a symbol of their loss.
This evening at 7, candles will be placed into each bag and the luminaries will be displayed on the steps of Thomas Plaza. Pam Comer, director of counseling at EMU, said of the event, “The theory is to light a candle in honor of someone you’ve lost.”
The display will be available for people to walk through as a way of honoring the memories of those who have passed and sharing in grief as a communal event. There will be music and prayer at the start of the event, but most of the night will be open for attendees to simply view the luminaries.
Sara Fairbanks, First-Year, decorated a bag for her friend Christina, who died at 17 from lung problems. “Freshman year of high school we became really close friends,” said Fairbanks. “She wanted to go into nursing, so that’s what I’m doing now because I told her I’d do it for her.”
When Christina died in 2009, Fairbanks did not realize the impact that her friend had left on the community.
“I was surprised when I got to her funeral and there were over 600 people there,” said Sara. “She touched a lot of people and she changed me spiritually… I got a lot closer to God because of her.” For Fairbanks, grief is a long and painful process.
“Every year, on the exact date she died, she pops into my head. I feel like she’s checking up on me, making sure I’m still doing what she wanted me to be doing,” said Fairbanks of her friend.
Junior Christina France decorated a luminary bag for her aunt Brenda, who died in a truck accident the day that France moved into EMU to begin the current school year.
“There was a car on the highway without its lights on. My uncle didn’t see the car in time to stop so he swerved and hit another tractor trailer and their truck flipped and caught on fire,” said the Junior. This recent tragedy has affected France more than the first appearance shows.
“We just moved here four years ago, so they are my only family down here,” she said. “I saw them two weeks before the accident, and I didn’t realize it was going to be the last time I would see her. It made me cherish life and the people around me because you never know if it’ll be the last time you see them.”
These stories are only two examples of how EMU students are grieving on campus. To view their luminaries and more, visit Thomas Plaza on Thursday night. Also, as a reminder, EMU offers free scheduled and walk-in counseling in the Wellness Suite, located directly off of the track on the second level of the University Commons.
-Lauren Sauder, Sports Editor