Jan. 8, 2024

UCalgary students band together for grief support

The Care Corner hopes to streamline processes for people experiencing loss
Photo of The Care Corner Founders
The Care Corner founders, from left: Maryam Qureshi, Sandip Dhaliwal, Margarita Gil, Dr. Gurvir Rai, MD, Randip Dhaliwal.

University of Calgary students have come together to support students experiencing grief on campus through a group called The Care Corner. 

The original concept for The Care Corner was formed over discussion between Randip Dhaliwal, a nursing PhD student, and colleagues after suffering the loss of a friend in the summer of 2021. 

“We felt like there wasn’t enough support from a student perspective that was really necessary after that death had occurred, so we banded together and thought about it and thought maybe there is something that we could do here,” says Dhaliwal, BN’18. 

The Care Corner questions the stigma of discussing death. The group meets regularly and is an informal and non-therapeutic source that isn’t meant to replace other resources offered by the university, but rather to allow members to have these conversations wholeheartedly. The group organizes activities to bring people together; past activities include painting and bracelet making.

Founders of The Care Corner

The Care Corner Founders, from left: Sandip Dhaliwal, nursing PhD student; Maryam Qureshi, counselling psychology PhD student; Dr. Gurvir Rai, MD, psychiatry resident; Bikram Sekhon, MD student; Ally Dodds; Randip Dhaliwal, nursing PhD student.

Maryam Qureshi, a counselling psychology PhD student and a founding member of The Care Corner, is particularly interested in grief with her counselling background.  

“It related to a lot of things that I had been interested in for a while in terms of grief, how we talk about grief, and how it’s a taboo to even talk about death, grief or suicide in regular conversation,” says Qureshi, BA’17, MSc’20. 

Once the idea was formed, Dhaliwal reached out to the director of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD.

“We discussed how this was a really important need and so he was in support of me proceeding and assembling a team of people I trusted and we moved forward from there,” says Dhaliwal. 

The team behind The Care Corner, which has been running since 2022, now hopes they can continue to help more people, but Dhaliwal says the goal isn’t necessarily about growing it into something huge, but rather offering meaningful impact.

Photo of Randip Dhaliwal, a founding member of The Care Corner

Randip Dhaliwal.

Randip Dhaliwal

“We don’t feel like the success of this group will rely on the number of people who partake,” as the number of attendees varies between sessions, “because, really, if we’re able to provide that comfortable space for even one person, it’s a successful initiative,” says Dhaliwal. 

The group also hopes to be able to be advocates for students experiencing grief as they navigate different processes.  

“Several of us have known what it was like first-hand or to support others who were unexpectedly hit with grief while also being a full-time student, and it’s overwhelming,” says Qureshi.

“How do you manage not having the strength to get out of bed while knowing you have midterms coming up? Having to negotiate with five different professors for extensions on assignments, having to get notes for classes you missed, having to find resources for mental health, and trying to support other family/friends also going through the same grief [is challenging].  

“We’re hoping to help create more streamlined processes for when students are going through this, and continually gather feedback on structures and policies that are helpful or unhelpful, in order to improve students’ experiences.”

To get involved in The Care Corner, you can reach them through their Instagram page.

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