The Weal
By Séamus Smyth

Would it be fair to say that one’s own mortality is never analyzed more closely than after the death of a loved one?

The SAIT Begin Tower is filled with drunken shenanigans, popcorn Fridays and the occasional student meltdown. But the death of resident Cody Gorlick made those delinquencies seem trivial as the loss of a fellow student forced each to contemplate when death will come knockin’ on their door.

ACAD digital media student Noor Sayadi was seven-years old when she came to the conclusion that her grandfather had gone on a trip and would never return. It was of course her first experience with death, but would certainly not be the last.

In the summer of 2008, one of her best friends died in a mysterious car accident in her home of Abu Dhabi.

“His future was going to be amazing; he could have been a doctor,” Sayadi explained.

It left a painful void in her group of friends who, only a short time after, would all go their separate ways to attend college. The sting did not abate until six months later when her group of friends flew home to spend time together over Christmas holidays.

“It is still a bit difficult to process. I sort of think he is in another part of the world —do I think I will see him again? Yes. That makes it a bit easier doesn’t it?”

Relations coach and mentor Nelson Kaisowatum explained that people tend to isolate themselves especially in a tight community like a dorm.

“Everyone’s reaction is so different. Some shrug their shoulders, some are shocked by the news,” said Kaisowatum, Owner/Proprietor at RELATE Coaching and Mentoring.

He said the key to tackling the insurgent, unrelenting pain of loss is to talk about it and to force those involved to cope together rather than individually.

“You have never seen more people concerned about their own mortality as at a funeral; tremendous vulnerability there,” Kaisowatum said.

SAIT petroleum engineering student Magd Elheliani can feel death breathing over his shoulder and is determined to not that let it take him just yet.

At only 22, his close friend is battling cancer. Elheliani and his friend both smoke cigarettes regularly.

“I have many dreams that I need to achieve. One day I will die and all my dreams will go away so I think, ‘OK I need to quit and I need to do many things so I can accomplish everything,’” he said.

Elheliani lives in the tower and wasn’t sure what to make of the death of Gorlick. Besides the urge to eliminate his smoking habit in hopes of delaying the grasp of the grim reaper, he said that he feels it’s better not to worry about one’s inevitable death.

“It is much better to not think about it. Just live your life and be happy,” he recommended. “Death is something that everyone thinks about. Maybe some people think positive and maybe some people think negatively, but if I just live my life just figure out what will happen all I can hope for after death is that something good will happen to me.”

In memory of Gorlick, SAIT residents gathered to sign a hockey jersey of his in the SAIT basement this past month and continue to mourn his death to this day.

Student Development and Counselling services can provide help and support SAIT students.

Students can call 403.284.7023 to make an appointment, or drop by MA205 in Heritage Hall.