Advice for Coping from the Counseling Center, Office of Spiritual Life

The Skidmore News has reached out to  Andrew C. Demaree, Director and Clinical Psychologist at the Skidmore College Counseling Center for advice for students coping with Saturday night's tragedy. We thank him for his response:

The message we've been trying to give to students today is that all of them have experienced the sudden and tragic loss of one of their peers (and in many cases, of one of their dear friends), along with the serious injury of two other peers. For students who were traveling along Clinton around and immediately after the time of the accident last night, what they experienced was quite traumatic. Our staff met with many students today and, as might be expected in a situation like this, most of them were expressing a mix of sadness, grief, and shock. As a community, we are trying to provide spaces for students to come together for peer support and to offer individual support, as well, to students who might be feeling particularly overwhelmed or connected to what has occurred. In addition, we have fielded calls from a number of concerned parents and have been providing guidance and support to them, too. We are encouraging students to make use of their organic sources of support - families, friends, coaches, etc. - as much as possible, as these are the individuals who know them best and can provide the kind of emotional support that will be particularly helpful at this time. Additionally, we've spoken with the Res Life staff about what to expect and how to be helpful to their residents, and we're encouraging students to reach out to their staff members for support, as they're situated in the halls in order to be able to provide this support in a more immediate way. 

As students attempt to cope with the tragic incident and its aftermath, I'd like them to know that their experiences are valid and to a large extent expected, even though they can feel overwhelming at times. That sense will come and go, as will their different emotional reactions to these events, as grief and shock move in and out in waves over the next several days or even weeks. What students will likely need most at this time - and what they can best give to each other as they are able - is a good listener, a lot of patience and compassion, and a shoulder to cry on. Moving through their grief and shock will take time, but the entire Skidmore community is here to offer support along the way. 

Finally, we've been letting students know that our various offices are trying to anticipate what they need at this time, and what they will need over the next several days or so. That said, we won't always know what a particular student, or group of students, will need. So, we encourage students to communicate their needs to the Counseling Center, to Residential Life, to the Office of Academic Advising, and to any of the other support offices on campus, so we can try to meet these needs whenever possible. 

Tomorrow, my staff will be creating as much room in our schedules as possible (essentially clearing out the majority of our regular appointments and meetings), in order to provide more access to students who might wish to come in and speak with us regarding the events of the weekend. We will also all be present at the community gathering at 8pm tomorrow night. Further information about that event will be sent to the community tomorrow.

Parker Diggory, Director of the College's Spiritual and Religious Life, also provided commentary and advice: 

Primarily I'd like to second what Andy Demaree
wrote to you both in terms of the complex weight of this tragedy and ways that students can cope and reach out. In addition I'll add that the Office of Religious and Spiritual life is available as another resource on campus for students. Those students who wish are encouraged to attend any of the regular schedule of observances and practices we host at the chapel- whether it's prayer or meditation or yoga. We may also be adding hosted open chapel times and other observances as requested and information about those and our regular events will be available on our website and Facebook page or by contacting me. When not otherwise reserved, the chapel is open daily for anyone who needs to come and just be in the space. In addition to the other sources of support Andy mentioned students may feel comfortable reaching out to a religious leader or community back home or locally. Those who wish can also speak to me as a chaplain and we can put students in touch with local religious leaders of their preferred

My prayers of grief and hope continue with the community at this
incredibly difficult time.

Grace and Peace,



A Unified Campus; Healing Alongside Our Peers

Campus Safety Reports October 23rd-29th