I live in a small, close-knit community in Southwestern Illinois where most people know each other. Generations have lived here and work to make new folks welcome. When a member of our town dies, we collectively grieve. You can almost hear the town sigh, “We will miss you.”
Grief professionals refer to this as communal grief, which refers to the experience of belonging to and sharing with a group of people that are also grieving.
Uvalde, Texas. This community is grieving the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. The deadliest school shooting since the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012. Unthinkable pain for those families and this tight-knit Hispanic community, the sense of violation and fear that must permeate the community – how can they move forward?
I imagine they may have felt before the carnage like I still do, that it could never happen in my small town. But we know in our hearts that’s not so. It can happen anywhere in our country.
Here are several things I found that a community can do to come together and to help those mourning a tragedy such as community violence:
Attend public funerals and memorials to gather together and heal together.
Participate in town hall meetings and public forums to discuss the incident. and get involved with community organizations that help all move forward.
Participate in parades and processionals to honor those lost.
Honor the deceased and their loved ones with a community wide moment of silence.
Support those grieving with social media posts and cards expressing your sympathy.
Participate in grief therapy offered by the city, counseling centers, churches, and other groups.
Make donations of food, flowers, money to help those most affected (there are several GoFundMe sites for the Uvalde families.)
Prayer – we can each offer our prayers for the families and community.
There are lots of resources available to help those grieving in our local communities, too. Heartlinks Grief Center has valuable information on myheartlinks.com. Here is the link to their grief resources: Heartlink resources
We are fortunate Heartlinks is here in our Southwestern Illinois area to provide support when communities need help grieving.
Another good source is SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Their Tips for Survivors: Coping with Grief after Community Violence offers insights: SAMHSA Tips
Communal grief can offer a level of support that individuals cannot get when they grieve by themselves. The community members can acknowledge, validate and witness those grieving. This allows a level of healing that is deeper than just our individual abilities. When we grieve together it is healthy and we share the burden of grief. Ties within the community can be strengthened through the actions taken during communal grieving.
There is strength in grieving together and hope that it can be a pathway to healing. Let’s all help each other restore hope in this sad time and pray that the community in Uvalde, Texas can heal.
Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to all ages, regardless of ability to pay. If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email email@example.com.
Proceeds from the sale of my books are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center, a program of Family Hospice of Belleville, IL.
“We Grow Stronger Together”