Coping with grief: a senior project


Olivia Silvey

Zein’s project focused on the process of grief, how to deal with loss through healthy coping mechanisms and ways to approach mental health in adolescence.

Almost 50 KHS students gathered in the lecture hall during homeroom Mar. 28 for Asha Zein’s senior project presentation and discussion about grief. Zein’s project focused on the process of grief, how to deal with loss through healthy coping mechanisms and ways to approach mental health in adolescence. Throughout the presentation, Zein encouraged students to respond with their own thoughts and ideas, striving to create an environment open to discussion.

Joining Zein was Kimberly Sweesy, 12th grade counselor, and Annie O’Brien, senior. Sweesy contributed information from her perspective as a professional counselor and O’Brien discussed the upcoming Suicide Awareness Week (SAW) which kicked off Monday, April 1.

During the discussion, Zein described how she went through the process of her senior project: choosing her topic, researching and finally sharing it with the world. Originally, she wanted to focus on makeup and how that affects people’s self-esteem. However, she refocused on a different topic: grief.

“I lost my dad Sept. 30 of 2018,” said Zein. “Once that happened I was gone for two weeks of school. Coping-wise, I was just trying to figure out where to start. So I decided to make that into my senior project because I felt like it was something I could relate to more.”

Zein spent many months researching her topic. She decided to specifically create her presentation central to what teens go through regarding grief and mental health. Her presentation included the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), different healthy ways to cope and helpful guidelines on how to support others that have experienced loss. She emphasized the significance of starting a conversation about tough issues.

“At first, I will admit, I was more nervous than I was expecting,” said Zein. “The topic hits really close to home. To have all those people come together and talk about something that usually doesn’t get enough light shed on it…that is really important.”

As Zein presented her research, more and more of the students in the audience raised their hands to contribute. They asked questions as well as answered them, and many expressed their appreciation towards Zein for having the courage to open up about her own experiences.

“It’s really hard to talk about this because although I am in a good place right now, I am still going through the process of grieving and just accepting how everything happened,” said Zein during the discussion. “It is hard, but it’s important to have these discussions because it opens the door for people who need that extra push to talk about this kind of stuff.”

Both Zein and Sweesy encourage reaching out to others for support, whether that means a trusted friend, teacher or counselor. Being kind to everyone despite their assumed situation is important as well.

“Regardless of whether you know someone or not walking through the halls every single day, everyone has a story, everyone has a background and everyone has things going on,” said Zein. “Something as simple as smiling, or saying hi, or complimenting somebody, small things go a long way whether we think about it or not. Everyone deserves somebody there for them.”


The grade level counselors are available for support and/or connecting students with the appropriate resources as needed. You can find contact information for the counseling department at KHS here.


The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24 hours a day.