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We Get It

We Get It

We Get It: Book for Grieving Young Adults

We Get It,” co-authored by Heather Servaty-Seib, David Fajgenbaum, and 33 inspirational grieving young adults, is available as a first of its kind resource: by grieving young adults and for grieving young adults and those who wish to support them. Grieving college students can often feel isolated and vulnerable, and may feel that no one else ‘gets’ what they are going through. With narratives from students who have lost a loved one and commentary from the authors, this book aims to provide guidance and support for bereaved students, as well as providing tips for those who seek to help them. Purchase through Amazon.

Book Description:

A unique collection of 33 narratives by bereaved students and young adults, this books aims to help young adults who are grieving and provide guidance for those who seek to support them.

Grieving the death of a loved one is difficult at any age, but it can be particularly difficult during college and young adulthood. From developing a sense of identity to living away from family and adjusting to life on and off campus, college students and young adults face a unique set of issues. These issues often make it difficult for young adults to talk about their loss, leading to a sense of isolation, different-ness and a pressure to pretend that everything is OK. The narratives included in this book are honest, engaging and heartfelt, and they help other students and young people know that they are not alone and that there are others who ‘get’ what they are going through. The narratives are usefully divided by themes, such as isolation, forced maturity and life transition challenges, and include commentary by the authors on grief responses and coping strategies. Each section also ends with helpful questions for reflection.

Inspired by the experiences of Dr. Fajgenbaum losing his mother during college and Dr. Servaty-Seib dedicating her career to college student bereavement, this book will be a lifeline for students and young adults who have lost a loved one. It will also be of immeasurable value to counselors, college administrators, grief professionals and parents.

Book Reviews:

‘Whether you’re a counselor, parent, or grieving college student, the 33 stories shared here will provide insight into some of the commonalities and differences young adults experience after the death of a parent or sibling, as well as tips on how to be helpful. Their journeys of struggle and healing offer wisdom and hope.’
– Donna L. Schuurman, EdD, FT, Chief Executive Officer, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

‘This book is important. It brings to life in clear, plain English stories of young adults who have coped with the death(s) of persons they love. Heather and David get it. They understand what coping with loss entails for a college student. They make the myriad experiences of young adults dealing with bereavement come alive for all of us. The stories told by grieving young adults illustrate clearly several important themes that scholars have uncovered about bereavement. Heather and David’s mastery of what they know will help others to get what the bereaved college student knows.’
– David E. Balk, Professor and Chair, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and author, Helping the Bereaved College Student

‘I see We Get It as a much needed tool for those who work with college students on a daily basis. College student personnel such as clinicians, residential life staff, Dean of Student staff, and faculty and administrators could truly benefit from reading about the themes noted-and even more powerfully from the students’ stories. The range of student experience covered through the first-person and beautifully honest narratives allows for a deeper level of understanding and perspective-taking, providing a unique insight into how best to support grieving students.’
– Philip M. Meilman, Ph.D., Director, Counseling and Psychiatric Service, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Georgetown University

Photos of our young adult authors:

“These young adults contributed to this book because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of future grieving students through sharing their stories. Rather than providing a prescription for how grief should be done, they genuinely describe the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they experienced throughout their grief journeys.  The power of this book is in the candid, engaging, and heartfelt sharing contained in these stories,” said Heather.

The book, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, includes a unique collection of 33 narratives by bereaved students and young adults. “Our goal for this book is to reach grieving young adults, help them to connect with others going through similar experiences who ‘get it,’ and offer guidance to those who seek to support them,” said Dr. Fajgenbaum.

Inspired by the experiences of Dr. Fajgenbaum losing his mother during college, which inspired the founding of AMF, and Dr. Servaty-Seib dedicating her career to college student bereavement, this book will be a lifeline for students and young adults who have lost a loved one. It will also be of immeasurable value to counselors, college administrators, grief professionals and parents.

Why this book is so important:

There are no current books of narratives by grieving college students, for grieving college students. Grieving young adults  are an under recognized group of grievers who are struggling with unique challenges—developmentally and in a context often separate from their friends and family.  At any one point in time, 40% of college students are within two years of the death of someone close to them.  Starting college is also a significant developmental milestone/transition which often prompts life review and reflection of earlier death losses. A primary struggle for grieving students is a feeling of isolation—and a sense that no one understands what they are experiencing.  This book of narratives will provide a much needed resource for young adults and those who seek to support them.

About the authors:


David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, is the co-Founder of the National Students of AMF Support Network, a support network for college students grieving the illness or death of a loved one. He founded the organization in 2006 in memory of his mother, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum (“AMF”), who died from brain cancer during David’s sophomore year of college. Under David’s leadership, National Students of AMF has grown into a national movement that has impacted the lives of greater than 3,000 grieving students on 200+ campuses and pioneered college student grief support as an important national issue. His work has been highlighted on the Today Show, Reader’s Digest, and the New York Times. David received his MSc in Public Health from Oxford University and his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently studying for an MBA in Health Care management at the Wharton School of Business and he led the University of Pennsylvania chapter of Students of AMF.

David Fajgenbaum is now an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN), and Associate Director, Patient Impact of the University of Pennsylvania’s Orphan Disease Center. Dr. Fajgenbaum is also a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics and Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.


Heather L. Servaty-Seib, PhD, is a counseling psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University.  She is considered a leading authority in the areas of adolescent bereavement, social support, and grief.  She is a past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and was co-principal investigator of ALIVE @ Purdue, a three-year, campus suicide prevention grant received from the Department of Health and Human Services. Much of her recent scholarship has been focused in area of college student bereavement including a co-edited volume (published by Jossey-Bass) entitled Assisting Bereaved College Students and empirical articles published in journal such as The Counseling Psychologist and Death Studies. Dr. Servaty-Seib received the Death Educator of the Year Award in 2013 from ADEC. She is committed to translating research into action. As an example, she contributed to efforts at Purdue to create a bereavement leave policy for students (implemented the summer of 2011) and has served as a resource for other campuses that have approved such policies (e.g., University of Wisconsin-Green Bay).

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