AMF. Three initials that have been formed together to create a safe space for college students grieving the loss of a loved one. Three initials are all it took to create a nationwide community that has shaped the lives of every person involved in its wonderful cause.
AMF, standing for Actively Moving Forward, is a peer-led support group for college students and young adults who have experienced the loss of a loved one. 1 in 3 college students or young adults aged 18 to 25 have experienced the loss of a family member or friend in the last 12 months, which leads them to a unique college experience that is unlike any other. With the stats of college student grief so high, founders David Faigenbaum and Benjamin Chesson created AMF, which are also David’s mom’s initials, to help college students feel supported in your grief journey.
Those of us in AMF often half joke about when a loved one dies we join a group that no one wants to be a part of, but we find that this group is one of the most impactful ones that we join in college.
I did not begin my AMF experience until my senior year of college, a year and a half after my mom suddenly passed away my sophomore year, and three years after I had started college already as a grieving college student losing my dad when I was 9. When a group of friends and I learned about AMF from a SMU counselor, we decided that this community was needed on our campus. We loved that there was a community service aspect of AMF besides just meeting once a week or twice a month. This was how we were Actively Moving Forwardin our grief. We made a list at our first meeting of causes that were near and dear to our hearts, often times being related to how our loved one died. In my four years with our AMF chapter as I had the opportunity to continue through grad school, we held Bone Marrow drives for Swab U and registered many potential bone marrow donors. We spread the knowledge of grief awareness in our community through our campus wide organization fairs and passed out our “Grief Sucks, AMF helps” suckers in which we included stats of the prevalence of college student grief.
Most importantly, even with our community service efforts, the biggest benefit of AMF to us was the safe space in which we could process our feelings or just be in a place where every other person in the room would understand the unique perspective we had in our life and college experience. Being a college student who was grieving, I faced challenges I felt no one else understood. Once I lost my mom, I was on my own financially as a 19 year old. This meant that not only did I have a full-time school load, I also was working 20 to 30 hours a week to make ends meet. It was my AMF family that was there when life presented me with unique challenges: where do I go for holidays now that I don’t have a home of my own to go to? How do I handle people talking badly about their own parents when I would give anything to hug mine again? Who am I supposed to hang out with during family weekend? Things that to other college students they could answer so easily, I could process these questions and the feelings that came with it.
The AMF Alumni Board, alongside our national AMF chapters, is committed to helping grieving college students throughout the nation. We hope to be able to be a voice for our organization to help keep building awareness of college student grief and to help our current AMF chapters as well as continue to build chapters at colleges around the nation. We also hope to create a community of AMF Alums that consists of young adults who are out of college that continue to still seek support with other young adults who are grieving. We are so excited for our adventure and we hope that you enjoy learning more about this wonderful organization through our AMF Alumni Board posts. Be sure to like us on our social media pages! — AMF Alumni Board