Katelynn Groh—Hey guys, its been a while! I wanted to take a minute to explain why I’ve been missing and whats going on these days!
So, a month ago Caitlin Clancy passed away. Now to just about all of you, you’re probably wondering, “Who is Caitlin Clancy?” But to my RA staff and myself, she was one of our residents.
When you go through RA training they train you for all the “what ifs” that could potentially happen, but the chance of certain things happening (like losing a resident) are very slim, and you think, “That’s not going to happen to me.” Until it does happen to you.
My worst fear is death, anyone who knows me well enough can tell you that; so naturally the first couple days/weeks after Caitlin passed were difficult. That’s why I’ve been MIA lately, I just haven’t found it in me to blog, and I knew I couldn’t blog about anything else until I blogged about Caitlin. So here goes…
Caitlin was nursing intent and in the Nursing Intent LLC in McFarlane Hall, in her second semester here at Brockport. Caitlin was very energetic and loved life, and when she passed away you could tell something was different in McFarlane. Its amazing how just one person can change the whole dynamic of a building. In an instant the whole feeling of McFarlane was different. But Caitlin will never be forgotten…once a McFamily, always a McFamily!
But one thing that was amazing to see, was all of the residents leaning on each other for support. One of our main goals as an RA is to create a community within our res hall so that residents can create connections and friendships. And seeing all of the residents being there for each other was very uplifting to see because despite everything that had happened, we (as RAs) created a community. It was nice to feel that we had achieved something because most of us blamed ourselves for Caitlin’s passing. I myself was asking what could I have done different?
Today I no longer blame myself. No matter what, what was supposed to happen, was going to happen. And I’ve accepted that. But I couldn’t have done that without the help of the counselors at the Counseling Center on campus. Our Central ResLife staff encouraged the McFarlane RA Staff to go to counseling a couple times just to make sure that we were okay in the days that followed Caitlin’s death. The Counseling Center here on campus has been so beneficial, I can’t praise them enough. Society has placed a certain stigma on counseling and people who go to counseling because it’s supposed to indicate that something is “wrong” with that person, but in reality it’s so not true. As RAs we can’t vent about anything that we’re going through to the residents because a lot/all of what we do is confidential and it crosses the RA-Resident boundary line; we have our staff to go to but even that becomes iffy because if you’re venting about another person on the staff you could cause staff conflict. So it becomes very difficult because you need that outlet or else everything just builds and builds to the point where you’re going to explode and cause even more damage. By going to the Counseling Center I’m able to have that outlet because they don’t know anyone I’m talking about so no one is offended and they can give honest opinions without being biased. I’m so thankful for the counselors and everything that they have done for myself and for McFarlane because without them, it would’ve made the grieving process a whole lot harder.
The McFarlane RA staff is very close, there’s no doubt about that. Ever since August, when we arrived for RA Training, we’ve been inseparable. We always try to go to lunch and/or dinner together and spend just about every waking moment with each other on the weekends. You could imagine how hard it is when one of us goes home on the weekend or we all leave for break! We’re always there for one another and I can count on them for anything and everything. When Caitlin passed, that only intensified. None of us wanted to be alone and since we were all going through the same thing we all just gathered in one of our rooms and did whatever. One of the times I remember myself and 2 other staff members wanting to take a nap because we were exhausted after staying up until 3am two nights in a row, but we didn’t want to be apart so we all gathered into one bed (it was really 2 beds put together) and took a nap for an hour. We didn’t even have to say anything, their company was comfort enough. We each have our own ways of coping, but I know for me personally I had to surround myself with my staff because I knew they would cheer me up…it’s never a dull moment!
I’m a part of our campus Acapella singing group, Brockapella, and they’re practically family. I look forward to getting together on Sundays to sing with them because they’re so fun and they each bring something unique to the group, it’s amazing. Well, when it came time to plan Caitlin’s vigil Brockapella was asked to sing. Before they even accepted the officers asked the 3 RAs from McFarlane staff who are in Brockapella if it was OK. Naturally they said yes, but it was so kind of them to think to ask us if we were OK with it. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to actually sing at the vigil because I was going to be crying, but I still wanted to stand up there with them, and that’s what I did. I choked out a couple words/verses but it was too emotional for me, and the rest of Brockapella knew that too. After the performance and after Caitlin’s vigil came to a close they all came up to me and the 2 other RAs from McFarlane, and were just hugging us and some even crying with us. You could really tell how much they all cared, and again it was so comforting to know that. We’re one big aca-family (see what I did there? :P)!
This blog isn’t meant to be a sad one, but an encouraging one. No matter what organization I’m a part of, I feel like we’re one big family. Whether it’s my RA family, my McFamily, or my Brockapella family, I’m so close to so many people who truly care about me as much as I care about them. And that is easily one of the main reasons why I love Brockport, and why I chose to go to school here. And I hope that you guys each find a school that you love as much as I love Brockport, whether it’s Brockport or a different college.