Just as Marysville- Pilchuck High School was preparing to begin the implementation of the share of their recently awarded $10 million grant to address emotional behavior among high school students, on Friday, October 24, a popular freshman entered the school opening fire on the students and before killing himself, injured 4 and killed 1. Today, it was reported that one of the injured, 14-year old Gia Soriano died of gunshot wounds.
While the police are working through the investigation and policymakers are working to understand the policies associated with gun control and school administration, it must be understood that there are students, teacher, families, and friends who were left devastated by the tragedy that struck their school on Friday.
Senseless tragedies often delay grief and give way to grief. Parents and friends can not begin to process the perspective that the person that they love are gone. Rather, the focus shifts to the why in hopes of trying to understand and process the why. Knees shaking and trembling voices leave no comfort to this community who in many ways are doorsteps from the tragedies that struck this state months ago during the Oso landslide that killed 43 people in early March.
What can you make of sending your child to school with the thought that their lives may be in danger not from outside of the school walls but within and at the hands of their elected and most popular student or a son or daughter of an employee who was acting out a temper tantrum that turned deadly. It makes no sense. Grant dollars are helpful to prevent, but the seed of senseless crimes are sown privately into children on a daily basis creating rage and uncontrollable anger.
Making sense of the senselessness makes my head hurt because with all of the methods of human behavior, it is often hard to predict what causes someone to snap and take other lives with them. The holiday season have begun, and like the parents who lost twenty children and 6 adults on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, facing the devastating and painful milestone of holiday grief with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, the wounds reopen.
Community trauma affects individuals differently and must be monitored to ensure that the well-being of everyone is respected. Giving people a pill and the 5 stages of grief no longer suffices the pain because denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance do not function in a straight line.
Grief is violent, exhausting, liberating, and above all necessary. Attempting to grieve the loss often gets cluttered with ensuring that justice is served for the life that was taken. Once can completely overthrow the other and can often result in unresolved grief.
Children may not understand that death is not reversible. You can not promise to got to bed and have your friends, family, or parent re-appear in the morning. Young adults may grapple with the factor of “Why them and not me?”
My prayers are that in the days ahead, the community will be comforted including the family of the young man who took and wounded so many lives on last Friday. That they will find peace and the courage to grieve in the days ahead.
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