The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Psych death out

When you think of death and dying, like most people in our society, you might want to stop and put it back in the recesses of your mind. So why would some- one want to take a class on the subject, let alone teach it?

City College “Psychology of Death and Dying” and “Loss and Grief”, professor Joanne Moylan-Aube, wants to lift the veil on the topic of death and has a passion for the subject.

The topic of death has long been taboo in American society. According to Moylan-Aube, 62, it is time to change that.

“The natural order of life pushes us forward,” Moylan-Aube says. “Suffering is everywhere and life is painful. But it is through our suffering that we appreciate life.”

The experience can be life-changing for those who have taken the death and dying class.

“This class has changed my entire perspective on life in general,” says Kayla Nicolos, a City College student who took Moylan-Aube’s class in the fall.

In part, because of its taboo status, death is not widely taught. City College’s classes are the only two classes on the subject offered in the Los Rios district. The only other class on the subject offered in the area is at California State University Sacramento.

Moylan-Aube’s clothes are as soft and flowing as her teaching style. Her hair is a little grayer than when she started at City College about 25 years ago. She wasn’t teaching then. She was a counselor. Teaching just dropped in her lap, she says.

While counseling a student in 2005, she realized the “Grief and Loss” class wasn’t on the books any longer, so she went to look for Tom Bruce, the professor who had created the class. When the elevator doors slid open, there he was.

“I was just coming to find you,” Moylan-Aube says she told Bruce. “Where’s that class? I would refer students to it.” Bruce told her he was no longer going to teach it and asked her if she wanted to. Without thinking, she agreed.

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Moylan-Aube genuinely cares about her students. This is understandable having a background in counseling. She is very cautious when moving to new topics.

“She addresses this class from a counselor’s perspective rather than an educator’s perspective,” Nicolos says.

Moylan-Aube says her interest was piqued during her internship while completing her master’s in counseling at Sonoma State.

“I found myself most interested in people that were grieving,” Moylan-Aube says, “because to me, it’s the richest, most pure emotion that we have. And yet we’re so discouraged to express it.”

According to those brave enough to face the subject head-on, the taboo status of the subject should become a thing of the past. Though it is a subject society often wants to sweep under the carpet, it’s something people can’t ignore.

“We’re surrounded by it,” says Jeff Nakata, re-turning Sacramento City College student. Nakata was enrolled in Moylan-Aube’s death and dying course in the fall. “So, what better class to take because we all have to deal with it, for our loved ones and eventually for ourselves? There’s no way around it.”

If Moylan-Aube had her way, this type of course would be taught everywhere.

“I think everybody should have an opportunity to take a peek at their own death anxiety,” Moylan-Aube says.

She is not alone in this way of thinking.

“I honestly think it should be part of your mandatory A.A. requirements,” says Nicolos. “Just like any of your health classes, this is health of your psychology.”

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