By Meredith McDermott, United4Hope Program Manager, and Laura Varela, Director of United4Hope
We are all reeling from last Monday’s school’s shooting at Covenant School, and we wonder what we can do to support others in their pain. If you are wondering how to support our neighbors during this difficult time, we wanted to share a few thoughts and resources that can help guide you on this journey.
How can The Church support hope and healing for Nashville’s schools?
Reach out and ask school faculty and staff that you know how they are doing. What are they feeling and how are they processing those feelings? They’ve had to be strong this week on behalf of their students, but they need a place to process their own experience. Acknowledge that it’s been a difficult week and that sadness, anxiety, and fear are common emotions. Remind them that they are loved. If you partner with a school through United4Hope, don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts there. Simple acknowledgement through an email, card, or text goes a long way!
Supporting the grieving:
From, Megan Devine, Author of It’s ok that you’re not ok and How to Carry What Can’t be Fixed
If you’re grieving and would like some help educating friends and family on the best ways to support you, these guidelines are for you, too:
- Remember that grief belongs to the griever: Follow their lead. Every grief is unique and belongs entirely to the person experiencing it.
- Drop off or send care packages. Tangible evidence of love and support is a wonderful thing.
- Stay present, don’t talk about “later” It’s tempting to talk about how things will be better in the future. Right now, that future is irrelevant. Stay in the present moment.
- Be specific about how you can help. Don’t say, “Call if you need anything.” Make concrete offers of support. Be Specific. Be reliable.
- State the truth: Future-based, omniscient, and generalized platitudes are unhelpful. Stick with the truth: This hurts. I love you. I’m here.
- Do the recurring things: Are there recurring tasks or chores you might do for your friend? Support them in small, ordinary ways.
- Try not to do anything that’s irreversible: Everyday things can be become precious after someone dies. Ask first before cleaning or changing anything that can’t be undone.
- Don’t compare griefs: Each loss is unique. Even if your loss is empirically similar, resist the urge to say you know what they’re going through. Ask first before sharing your own story of loss.
- Say their person’s name: You aren’t sparing their feelings by not talking about or saying the name of someone they lost.
- Tackle projects together: There’s a lot to do after someone dies. Offer your assistance and follow through with your offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks.
For additional resources to address this topic, please see the following: