From Desolate Winter to Invincible Summer: Coping in the Aftermath of Tragedy

From Desolate Winter to Invincible Summer: Coping in the Aftermath of Tragedy
posted by Jennifer “JJ” Larson, President, HECMA

As members of the profession, Higher Education Case Management, we have a connection to tragedy, loss and mass shootings that is undeniable. Our field grew as a direct response to the Virginia Tech tragedy in 2007. Not the first, not the last; but at that time, the worst. Since that event and in response to the Review Panel’s recommendations, colleges and universities have continued to hire behavioral health and student affairs professionals to assist campuses in identifying and responding to students who struggle, students in distress, and with great hope to intervene early to prevent further tragedy.

Over the past year as President of HECMA, I have reached out to more of our colleagues than I had ever envisioned. Communities and Campuses impacted by the behavior of one or several; and with motivation ranging from significant illness or self-injury to violence and power to intolerance and hate. As HECMs we stand in support of the survivors and the communities who have been impacted by the actions of others. We extend our allegiance to the LGBTQ community; and endeavor to fight hate with love. We honor all communities, Latinx and Muslim included, who are devastated and hurting. And we appreciate the stories of heroism that emerge; send gratitude to the first responders who take in so much to protect, serve and heal; and our hearts ache for the families and friends that struggle to understand. The recovery process is a tangled web of emotions and responses; as individual as those who experience them. At HECMA we have reached out to our Florida colleagues to offer support and encouraging words as they embark, with their campuses and communities, on this unexpected and unwanted journey.

Here are but a few links to resources and information that might be helpful for you and your campus communities:

  • American Counseling Association: Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting
  • American Psychological Association: Managing your Distress in the aftermath of a shooting
  • The Mayo Clinic: Helping children cope: Tips for talking about tragedy
  • Human Rights Campaign: Remember Their Names: Honoring the Lives of the Orlando Victims

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus