Centacare Catholic Family Services is concerned about the impact of recent events on the South East community.

Assistant Director Pauline Connelly has the following advice for children and adults who might be struggling with grief and loss at this difficult time.

  • Complex sense of loss

“We hear of violence around the world and in other cities, but it can be shocking when it happens in your own community where you have always felt safe and happy. That can change the way we feel about a place, and how we experience it.

“There will most likely be a sense of loss in these communities. Because people may know both the alleged perpetrators and the victims, it can become very complex. That can lead to grief and loss.’’

  • Don’t fuse with your feelings

“How we feel about our community may have now changed. It is important to observe your own reaction; sadness, grief, shock or fear, but don’t fuse with that. Bring yourself back to your reality. You are safe even though your thoughts about your town, in the short term, may have changed.’’

  • Talk to others

“Don’t judge other people. We will all have our own response to these events. When we’re confused and upset, we may become judgemental or frustrated or even resentful of someone else’s reaction, but now is the time for displaying kindness and tolerance.’’

  • Avoid gossip

“One way of helping with difficulties is to talk about them. But if people are gathering in groups and going over the events again and again, and trying to find out the details, then it can become unhelpful and set off an anxiety response.’’

  • Pay close attention to children

“If you find your children are affected or you’re not sleeping, or you’re having flashbacks even just hearing about it and this doesn’t go away, then it would be very useful to talk to a professional about that.

“It’s important to recognise how we deal with our responses, especially in children, and care for them around that.

“Protect your children from newspapers, TV and the saturation of media coverage. These images do not need to be stuck in the little one’s minds. Allow your children to speak about their feelings, but gently bring them back to their reality that they are safe.

“They might want to do something positive, like draw a picture, write a letter or a simple prayer. It may be that the school creates a positive activity for the children to do that helps them feel they are making a difference.”

For more information, please phone Centacare South-East 8724 0500.