For the North Hedges Fifth Floor residents, Derek Brown was the man. He died in a car accident in September. A memorial for Derek was held with an open mic for anyone who wanted to speak. The most moving of all speakers were the men from the fifth floor, who had looked to Derek as a role model in their new home away from home. They had known Derek for short time, but Derek had become a pivotal person in their lives at MSU. Derek brought his floor together and this remained true even after his death.
Now, as the academic year is winding down and many of us are planning to live together, we have bonded and made lasting connections because of our loss. Because I was interested in how we each grieved this loss, I asked a few questions of my floormates. Many said that opening up was the best way to overcome grief, and a good number of us found comfort from a counselor or therapist. Derek taught us an important lesson, when going through hard times it is important to reach out to others — whether that means talking to someone professionally or just being open with those who surround you about what you’re going through. In other words to take the first steps to finding peace, find those who can help.
I am sending a scrapbook of sorts to Derek’s family, and I invite anyone who wishes to share something to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that Derek touched all of us in ways that will influence the rest of our lives. Rest in peace Derek, we’ll take you with us for the rest of our lives.