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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.

Couple of things: GriefTalk offers specialized individual and group coaching. Complete this form for a free consultation with me .

Relationships

The Front Porch: The Waiting Room by Danita Ogandaga

Front porches are so quaint and serve as a beautiful introduction to a home. I like to think of front porches as a waiting room of sort. Some overflowing with rocking chairs and plants and some bear with a single chair. I am sure that many people have had an awesome experience in life while sitting on the porch. For those friends of mine that may be from various sections of the world, the porch is defined as a structure attached to the exterior of a building often forming a covered entrance. The definition is solid but does no justice for the cultural symbolism that a porch holds for the American and their front porch. The porch fosters an amazing connection between nature and land, safety and security, the level of control one has between the world and the domain of his or her home.

Formation of Community- Growing up on Desmond Street in Kinston, North Carolina was an amazing experience. To the left of my street would be the Koonce, Dillahunt, and Platt families and to the right of me would be the Rhem, King, and Smith families. Whether the weather was cold or hot, you could be sure that at some point of the day, you would have a member of those family members sitting on that porch. Before I could even walk, my mother and my father would always encourage me to greet my neighbors when coming out of the house and getting into the car. The idea of offering a greeting was a sign of respect and reverence for the neighbors who assisted in creating community on my street.

Porches have been creating venues for socialization for many years which has lead to the formation of community. I remember the farmers coming into town stopping on my street and watching my mom go to the porch to purchase her vegetables and fruits. There were times when my father would give the payment for our life insurance policy to the agent….on the porch. We would venture off of our porch and walk to the porch of our new neighbors who moved into the community. The porch was the holding space that fostered much opportunity to building lasting friendships; building familiarity beyond the sidewalk and not yet achieving the intimacy of entering the house. It was overall, a healthy balance of a new beginning.

Nurturing the Psychiatric Core- My parents were ministers, so I was a PK (Preacher’s Kid) two times over. Still, I witnessed several occasions where my parents would counsel married couples, engaged couples, and family issues on the porch. The furniture on the porch got a lot of wear and tear from our family as we would use the porch as a common ground to air the issues were facing as a family in addition to celebrating the positive moments like birthdays, holidays, and other events.

Families use the porch as a common ground to resolve issues about which kid knocked the hose over and how it would be resolved. The porch was a civil arena where people could come with no reservations to establish a non-threatening environment for creative resolutions to making everything better. Bringing the neighborhood and the community together and provoking opportunities to invoke awareness and prompt care, the porches of the world, whether public or private, are a waiting room for change.

This weekend, my family and I were engaged in our weekend activities which included the following, to name a few:

Visiting family members for Tally to play with her cousins
Taking a trip to our International Farmer’s Market
Business meetings with clients
Courting at our local cafe
Walking a trail at our local park
Checking out or returning books at our local library

In the midst of doing all of this traveling and back and forth, while out visiting our Aunt and Uncle in the northern part of Georgia, we realized that while attempting to get to their home early, we were locked out and did not want to wait in the car. So instead of complaining, we just took the time to take the funny pictures, get in sneezing matches due to the pollen affects, sing our favorite songs, and just look into each other’s eyes and just be……one, with each other. It was such an awesome experience to be able to take the time to star gaze into each other’s eyes…..that was until we realized that the door was open and our Aunt and Uncle had entered the house from the rear and had been waiting for us to come in for about twenty minutes! It was hilarious, but the time we spent on that pollen- filled porch was priceless!

Enjoy your family; enjoy your porch!