In the wake of the tragic events at Umpqua Community College, it is natural to want to offer support and care for the families directly affected by the shootings.
Most of social media is buzzing with the long-argued debate over gun control vs freedom to keep, conceal and use weaponry at will. I get it, these people maximizing the opportunity to haggle over what’s best for all in the wake of a tragedy seems logical. Why not talk about the gigantic bloody elephants in the room while their bodies are still being prepped for their funerals. That is certainly going to motivate people to take massive action one way or another, right?!
Ummmmmm, that’s a hell no sir.
What the Umpqua Community College and the outlying area needs most at this time, is a community- A NATION to rally beside them and DO THINGS THAT HEAL, not hurt them further.
Here are my top 5 tips to help Roseburg Oregon, Umpqua Community College and its community members
- Families may not be able to articulate what they need in the early days following the crisis. As the hours go by, families will slip into a state of shock and disbelief and in doing so, they may exhibit erratic and hysterical behavior. Some people react withdrawn and angry, while others may become hysterical and inconsolable. Make it possible for the families to grieve; realize that your presence speaks louder than anything else. You may not be able to alleviate the pain but you can help in indirect ways. Close friends and family can be of assistance by taking the lead in managing every day tasks that are required despite the upheaval. Making sure animals are fed and cared for, calls are screened and children are distracted, reduces the stress on families who have very little capacity to cope.
- Respect the privacy and grief time-line of the families affected. In the days after a critical event, families are oftentimes under pressure to make decisions they are not prepared for. Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult in and of itself and it is magnified when the issue is public. In addition to funeral arrangements, families are bombarded with news and social media. Fielding all of the attention is exhausting and compounds the stress families are under. The community can offer support by respecting the family’s boundaries and allowing them time to digest what is happening.
- Be of service within the community. Nothing brings a community together faster than a public tragedy. This energy should be directed towards positive activities that promote healing and community solidarity. Volunteer your services to local agencies that have infrastructure in place for helping. Being of service displaces pent up energy, anxiety and anger caused by the unexpected violence.
- Resist the urge to lash out. The media can be informative and it can generate hate and drama. Avoid social media that encourages hateful commentary and discord. Tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people. Stand together as a community and disengage from any commentary that is designed to separate the community. As accusations fly about the shooter, his or her affiliations and their families, it is important to remember that the family of the shooter is in as much shock and pain as the families of the victims.
- Maintain connection with the families over time. As the impact wanes over time, families are often left to manage their emotions and pain on their own. It is typical for communities to offer support in the hours and days following an incident; care must be taken to stay connected after things have normalized within the community. Long after the initial shock has worn off, families remain impacted with grief, pain and loss. Maintaining a connection with the families in the months after the incident will be very beneficial.
President Obama was quoted saying “Our thought and Prayers are not enough”, I agree. We need to actionably accountable in any way we can. If you know someone who was directly affected, contact them. Ask them if there is any way you can support them. Sometimes just reaching out is enough. Most of all, remember as time goes by, they will still need your support. Long after the media frenzy is over.