Teams exist not just to accomplish new triumphs, but to support one another in times of tragedy. In those moments, team members have a unique ability to lift low spirits. Every athlete knows the power teammates have to console each other and heal together during times of loss.
This past week, the Yale community lost two students, friends and beloved team members. Together, we mourn Hale Ross ’18 and Rae Na Lee ’19. It has been, in many ways, impossible to honor peers who studied near us in libraries, laughed with us in dining halls or sat across from us in seminar.
We at the News have struggled with what we should say, and if we should say anything at all. We have searched for words of support, regardless of how these tragedies have touched your lives.
To those of you most directly affected, there is little we can say to ease your pain. Maybe you’re a member of Calhoun College. Maybe you’re on the track and field or fencing teams. Maybe Ross or Lee was in your classes, your club or your social circle. For those immediately impacted by these losses, our deepest sorrow and thoughts are with you.
It’s also challenging to be part of a wider community in the midst of tragedy. In a campus so large, not everyone knew Ross or Lee. Many people read Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway’s emails and felt unsure how to respond to losses that can feel both distant and immediate. Many of us are wondering how to mourn for those we never knew or how to support grieving friends.
Indeed, some have chosen to grieve privately. Others have turned to close campus communities, such as a suite or extracurricular group. Yet there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for responding to loss; no right way to remake life without a friend.
To us, a community is a place where people can feel comfortable giving and asking for support. As you work through the days and weeks ahead, you don’t need to be alone in shouldering these losses. Many Yale students visit Mental Health and Counseling which, for all its imperfections, remains an important resource, as do Walden Peer Counseling and the Chaplain’s Office. There are also coaches and deans, trusted professors and FroCos. And then there are our friends who know us, love us and care about us. This is a time to lean into our communities, while also letting people process loss however feels best for them.
Sometime between adolescence and early adulthood, the reality of death becomes clearer. We face our own vulnerabilities, and we begin to notice those of our peers, friends and family members. It can feel natural, even healthy, to compartmentalize them as a distant worry. Yet at times, it can feel necessary to take a step back before taking a step forward. Moving on from tragedies like those of the past week takes time.
Yale is, in many ways, a team. We are not all fighting for the same victory, and we certainly don’t know everyone wearing our proverbial colors. Yet part of what “team” means is working to take care of ourselves and to support those in need. It is in times like these that community can mean the most.