We would like to begin by saying that we are filled with sadness at the loss of Rick Hillis. He was a valuable member of the community that we all call home. We wish to extend our condolences to his wife, Emily Doak, who is also a member of the faculty, and the rest of his family and friends.
Any loss within a close-knit community like DePauw has the ability to impact the entire community, either directly or indirectly. While we did not know him, our professors and our peers did. We, along with anyone else on campus who did not know Hillis, share in the pain of those around us.
We would like to use this unfortunate event to discuss the importance of supporting one another in the community, particularly when there is an irreplaceable loss.
Tragedy, of any sort, binds people together through a commonality in their loss. This phenomenon occurs both on a national and local level. Sept. 11 and the Boston Marathon bombings are examples of how our country came together immediately following a tragedy to get through it.
A November 2005 ABC news blog titled, “Working wounded blog: Tragedy creates community,” states “Our colleagues can become companions, and we can really be there for each other as we try to make sense of the tragic loss. And that’s what I hope will happen — that people will talk from their heart, learn from each other and take their connection to a deeper level.”
However, we question why sometimes it takes something horrible to connect with people on that deeper level and to come together. Why is it not something that is part of our daily lives? It should be, and we all know it. But for whatever reason, it isn’t, and that standard should not be considered acceptable. We should be held to a much higher standard.
The DePauw community prides itself on being close-knit. Processing a death together can only make us closer yet.
As a community, it is important for us to support each other. The university has a host of resources for us while we grieve, including the counselors in the Wellness Center and the reflection spaces in the Center for Spiritual Life. But there is nothing better than the support of your friends during grief. We encourage each of us to be there for our friends as we all mourn the loss of Hillis together.
We also challenge each of us to continue to be there for our friends after this tragedy has passed. Our community will recover from our loss in time, but each of us will continue to face personal struggles. The true testament as to whether or not we are indeed as close as we claim will come from how well we support each other when we aren’t grieving collectively. If we can always be just as supportive as we are post-tragedy, then, and only then, will we be able to call ourselves a close-knit, supportive community.