A Community in Mourning
Our community has experienced multiple public tragedies in the past few weeks. From Oostburg, to Kohler and Sheboygan Falls, the losses have been catastrophic. But the resulting grief is not isolated to those small villages and cities; it is felt throughout the county. We are a community in mourning.
Whether or not we knew any of the affected families personally, chances are we are feeling something right now as we try to empathize. We are experiencing our own grief in response to their losses. Grief is the internal thoughts and feelings an individual has in response to a loss. This experience is unique to each person and those thoughts and emotions can change from moment to moment. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Contrary to popular belief, there are no consecutive “stages” of grief. All of those intense feelings come and go and come again without any respect for time or logic. We should never judge another person’s grief.
Mourning is how we express our grief outwardly. We can do this individually or collectively. Mourning is how we reconcile our grief, show our support, and seek the new normal. Mourning can be messy and beautiful at the same time.
Some of the ways our community has acted in mourning recently have been through candlelight vigils, prayer gatherings, sharing memories, making charitable donations, and offering nearly every gift and service you can think of to provide relief to the affected families. I’ve seen stunning original works of art, strangers lined up outside in the cold to offer their condolences, and social media posts turn from selfies to memorials.
Knowing one of the families personally, I have been inundated with calls asking “how can we help?” and “what can we do.” That desire to “do” something is part of mourning. Feeling like there is nothing we can do can be paralyzing. It can leave us stuck in grief.
Thankfully, grief support services are available in our community. There are few experiences in life that unite people the way sharing grief does. Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice offers free drop-in support groups for adults and children as well as private counseling if needed. Adult groups meet the fourth Wednesday of each month from 10:30 to noon or the third Thursday of the month from 6:00 to 7:30pm. Children ages six to eleven and their parents meet the first Tuesday of the month from 4:00-5:30pm. Older kids ages twelve to eighteen meet on the second Thursday of the month from 4:00-5:30pm. I encourage you and your loved ones to visit one of these groups if you are struggling with grief.
What else can we do? I know that my friends would tell us to be intentional with the time we have. Apologize and forgive quickly. Go out of our way to show others that they matter. Part of mourning is reflecting on our own lives and relationships. Many are doing this now. I’m confident our “new normal” will be beautiful.
Angelia Neumann is the director of development and communications for the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice.