Some come to college looking for themselves, trying to figure out who they are and what they want. Others, like Noelle Robinson, a freshman speech-language pathology major, come to college looking for someone they’ve lost. 

Robinson’s father, Carlyle Robinson Jr., died in July 2016. Before his death, Robinson said she had not experienced “real loss,” and visiting his grave for the first time was an uncomfortable experience. 

“In my mind around that time, I didn’t really accept the fact that he was gone. I was kind of in denial, but when I got to [his grave] it was like a whole different wave of emotion,” Robinson said. “When I went to his site, it really sunk in. That was my moment of, ‘OK, this is really happening, I have to go about life now.’”

Considering herself a silent griever, Robinson tried to deal with her grief on her own, but when she got an email from Bria Matemane, a junior risk management and insurance major, Robinson realized that she didn’t have to.

This year, Matemane started a group on campus called Missing Our Mothers, or MOMs, dedicated to help students whose loved ones have died. 

When she started the group, Matemane was looking to help not only Robinson and other students who had experienced loss, but also herself.

“I lost my mom, Joyce Taylor, on Oct. 10, 2015,” Matemane said. “When I lost her, I tried to find a good community [on campus] but honestly it didn’t seem like anyone around my age that I knew personally understood.”

Matemane partnered MOMs with Muncie’s Destiny Christian Center, DCCI, to create a space for students to find support. Some members from DCCI also act as mentors for group members alongside other Ball State students.

The group isn’t exclusively for students whose parents have died, however. Robinson said the group is specifically about coming together to support one another through any kind of grief one may have.

“I think having a club like this on campus is important because people go through loss and don’t know how to handle it, which eventually leads them to become lost and self-destructive,” Robinson said. “I think this club gives BSU students a chance to grow and understand themselves as well as others.”

Eventually the group hopes to plan events where they would bring in speakers, volunteer in the community and even start a book club.

For now, however, the group is hoping to get more students involved and help create a welcoming environment for students who are in need of a community, like Robinson and Matemane.

“Losing a parent really shifted the way that I view life and people that I care about. My father was really my best friend,” Robinson said. “His death really taught me to appreciate and cherish people you love and that love you. I have also become a much stronger and motivated person. My dad now is my sole purpose to do well and be successful. Everything I do is in his honor now, not mine.”

Contact Justice Amick with comments at jramick@bsu.edu or on Twitter @justiceamick.