CSU alumnae start grief counseling program in Fort Collins

Haleigh McGill

The three co-founders of Grief Support of the Rockies answered questions about the mission of their business and the services they provide to the Fort Collins community Tuesday.

Since February, Kaitlin Jones, M.S., Jessica Kuhn, M.A. and Amanda D. Mahoney, M.A. work collaboratively to meet the needs of both CSU students and the greater community. Jones and Kuhn are both alumnae of CSU. Part of this work includes tearing down the stigmas that surround the concept of grief and casting the idea of seeking professional help in a positive light. They specialize in coping with grief in general, as well as dealing with human and pet loss.

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Left to right" Kaitlin Jones, Jessica Kuhn, Amanda D. Mahoney. (Photo credit: Dina Alibrahim Fike)
(Left to right) Kaitlin Jones, Jessica Kuhn, Amanda D. Mahoney, the founders of Grief Support of the Rockies, . (Photo credit: Dina Alibrahim Fike)

What is your overall vision or mission?

Kuhn: “We hope to grow with groups for human loss … Fitting whatever the clientele coming through the door in that given month [needs] for human loss or for pet loss. We want to see where that goes.”

Jones: “It’s evolving … We do a lot with pet loss which is where my passion lies … We have delved into providing compassion support for veterinarians or those who work in the mental health field at their work place.”

What are your biggest strengths as a business, and where do you see opportunities to grow?

Mahoney: “We all approach mental health in the same way … You see someone suffering, and you want to relieve their suffering … Our passion and dedication is what binds us. The most unique part of what we do is the educational piece and the pet loss. I think that’s where we get the most feedback with room to grow and to offer support.”

Kuhn:
 “All three of us are excited and want to grow … we have to determine where the need is and how to fulfill it … We want to provide the kind of grief support community that exists with places like Judi’s House in Denver.”

When it comes to college students, what are the most common issues that they bring to your attention?

Jones: “Coping with new stress that [students] didn’t know they would be coping with when they went to college [is common] … There are a lot of questions and a lot of anxiety about what the future looks like.”

Mahoney: “Life changes and dealing with relational changes [are common]. … There’s a lot of confusion.”

How can we better deal with the suicides that occur on campus and work to prevent them from happening?

Mahoney: “Educating anyone and everyone who can potentially identify the signs and symptoms … there is a huge sense of relief when someone cares enough to ask [what’s wrong] … We have whole different language we use when we talk about suicide … we don’t use the word “commit” because it infers a crime has been committed … we usually say “the person has a disease like depression.” It helps to de-stigmatize it. This was not their fault at the end of the day.”

Kuhn: “Education is a big thing, for prevention and also for how to process suicide after it has happened. Death in general is confusing, and we try to make sense of it. We ask all those “why” questions … people view it as a decision with all these underlying reasons, some of which we can make sense of and some of which we can’t.”

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In general, Jones says that she has “seen a lot of hope” when it comes to coping with all kinds of grief.

Grief Support of the Rockies is located at 4115 Boardwalk Dr., Suite 200.

For those who want or feel they need to seek professional help for effectively dealing with grief, Kuhn offered these words:

“There’s that stigma of ‘if I’m in therapy, I’m crazy,'” Kuhn said. “But the most healthy people I know have been, or are in therapy. It helps you learn about who you are.”

Collegian Reporter Haleigh McGill can be reached at news@collegian.com, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.