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How Young Adults Face Grief After School Shootings- Danita Ogandaga, GriefTalk

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.

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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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Grief & Loss

“All Lives Lost”: Grieving w/the Families of Flight 370

 

 

 

mayaRecent reports rang throughout the world that all lives have been lost and the Malaysian Flight 370 loaded with approximately 239 passengers from all backgrounds, nationalities, and religions have perished.

In a recent interview, Prime Minister Najib Razak reported that the airline responded via text message declaring its “deepest regrets leading to an assumption that Flight MH 370 has been lost and that none of those on-board survived.”

Suddenly, a loud wailing burst forth from families whose repetitive questions week after week since this suspicious and mysterious vanishing of the plane led to no clue of understanding where their family members are. We can only imagine how helpless they must have felt to be in such a state with no definitive answers of the last moments of their loved ones.

This type of grief produces complicated grief for many where there is no finality associated with the death of a loved one and no proper burial or resting place. The passengers aboard were not just that or crew, they were fathers, children, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousin, and friends. We take this time to pray for those who are survivors of the lost.

In the days ahead, the tasks of grief may seem complicated but we wish the family peace in gaining acceptance for the loss of their loved ones. The tasks of grief, developed by William J. Worden include

  1. Accepting the reality of loss
  2. Experiencing the pain of grief
  3. Adjusting to a life without the deceased
  4. Withdrawing emotional energy and investing in other relationships.

All of these things will not be done overnight, we pray for the strength of the families in the days ahead.

 

Culture & Communications, Grief & Loss

Is America Still Grieving the Loss of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ?

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We’re ever mindful of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today as well as everyday. The fortitude and great courage displayed under fire to lead a nation into freedom and awareness of self was impeccable. For those that were present on this Earth during the time of his assassination,  I pause to write this post for you.

Is America still grieving the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

President Obama eloquently stated at the passing of Nelson Mandela that Mandela does not belong to us, he belongs to the ages. This statement rings true for many who are going through the grieving process. How do we present our loved ones to the ages, a place where there is no reach until death? The process and stages associated with presenting that loved one to the ages is grief (the acknowledgement that our loved ones are no longer among us.)

I wonder how you approached the grief on that low day on April 4, 1968 at 6:10 pm when time stood still for the nation and the world it sits in. For many, the hope of a nation froze like an ice cube in a tray wondering how we as a nation would move forward creating progress towards a more perfect union between races, religions, and genders. How many Marches on Washington have been held to promote peace, how many movements and sit-ins have been established to break the mold on injustice since that time?

Disappointment and grief are two cousins that can knock a person off of their feet. It is like an unwanted house guest that you want to leave and are not certain of the duration of time for their visit. Long after television announcement such as an assassination of a leader has been published, what happens to the hope of the people who vested all of their hope in forward progress? Have their hope dried up like a raisin in the sun? withered like grass? turned into a state of surviving rather than thriving? provoked courage in the face of fear or a screaming settling to accept the current circumstances of this life? Many have said, including my parents, that Dr. Martin Luther King’s mark in their lives was huge and they would not be able to have certain privileges without his contribution and the favor of God on his life.

Think about your approach to grief. I know that we’ve lost loved ones far greater than the relationship of a leader such as Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King, but looking back at the approach you took once you heard the news of Dr. King’s assassination, where you satisfied with the steps of grief you went through and your approach to it? Where are you today and how have you changed?

For anyone that has gone through the loss of a loved one would say that grief is a refining fire that burns but when you come through it, your perspective is fortified with a great strength that provides peace and courage, an unshakable courage to approach life fearless because you have already loss in life, yet you are alive, and equipped to move forward in peace that your loved one is at peace. Grief is complex, peaceful,  speechless, and confusing all at the same time.

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How do you choose to remember and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King today? While some capitalize on legacy photo shopping Dr. King in a twerkin contest for their club (SAD) or him rocking a gold chain (c’mon people), we could be taking the time to organize coalitions or assisting the efforts of the NAACP in getting clarity about their vision now in 2014 where we have a multiplicity of issues that affect us individually and collectively like mental health and the agonizing reality of how prolonged grief is impacting our race due to the misconceptions that we hold concerning distrust in mental health providers, how religion and our devout love for God keeps us wrapped up tightly in denial that we are acquiring pain but not releasing it. Dr. King’s Day brings us together in harmony yearly for fellowship but should we be galvanizing our communities expanding the vision rather than continuing to celebrate the legacy that froze in 1968? Hear me well, I honor Dr. King and have the highest admiration for his family, but am always challenging myself to do more. I love how every YouTube video of Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. King, always encourages us to move forward and advance the dream of her father.

So now that many years have gone by and you’ve reflected on how you have processed your grief over the years, how have you made personal change in your life and contributed to the lives of your community?  Creating social and environmental change begins with a choice and a decision to make something of the surroundings that we live in. Giving up and caving in will never resolve issues. If you are disappointed with where the nation is since the death of Dr. King, stop and ask yourself what are you doing to make a difference?

I love community organizing and my time as one in Pittsburgh working with hopeless people who could not see past their current circumstance and surrounding. It is amazing what a cup of coffee and some jazz can do for letting people know that they are not stuck with a memory of Dr. King. No…No. His legacy is very much alive and lives in each one of us. Just as the people of South Africa may be grieving the loss of Mandela, although they have a capable president, they can not erase the effort  and contributions that were made under his leadership. The blueprint that they choose to leave in life will be inspired by his legacy. We too, should do the same. Marches may not be effective, but social media is. What topic are you passionate about? How can you share your story with the masses. Today in honor of the legacy of Dr. King, let this be the day that you draw the line in the sand and move yourself forward to progress, doing something rather than talking about the endless possibilities of it. If Mandela can rise from prisioner to president and Dr. King from minister to global agent for change, what will your story be?

be encouraged……….

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