On April 2, 2014, four people were killed in an incident on Fort Hood an Army base in Texas. The funerals for the deceased have been held. The memorials on Fort Hood have been created, and ceremonies for the deceased have been held. http://www.hood.army.mil/.
What happens next for the families whose loved ones had been killed in this incident? Our first thought is to think of the wives, and children of the victims. Actually the number of persons affected by the death of the victims is much larger than the immediate families. Think of a concentric circle around the victims. In the center of the circle is one victim. In one circle around each victim is the immediate family. The 2nd widening circle is the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt and uncles, and cousins of the deceased. The number of people impacted in this circle could easily reach into the tweens and twenty numbers. The 3rd widening circle around the victim is friends, collogues, and co-workers. Lastly the fourth widening circle is acquaintances from various social settings such as church, children’s activities, sport groups, and other groups the victim was involved in. In some cases the number of people who will experience grief symptoms from this shooting could be as large as a 100 people or more.
Many grief counselors, grief sites, and media outlets refer to the Five Stages of Grief created by Elizabeth Kubler- Ross listed here http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617 as the way all people grieve. This is actually incorrect. Many grievers try to fit themselves into this theory of grief thinking they are abnormal if they don’t experience these stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of grief was created from talking with people who were DYING not people who were grieving. This is an important distinction. People who are dying are not experiencing what the families of the deceased family and friends are.
Each grief experience for each person is different from everyone else. This makes it difficult to say when or if a grieving person will experience the same thing as someone else. This difference in the grieving process has been attributed to the strength of attachment the griever had to the deceased. An example of this would be the mother of the deceased experiences the grief differently than the wife of the deceased because the relationships are different.
Each person will also, have a different amount of time they will grieve. For those who are supporting grievers you must understand there is no time limit for grief. It can be anywhere from two years to forever.
In many ways grief is an internal personal process that takes energy, time, and support. These families will need the support of their friends and relatives while healing. The most important thing you can do for them is listen, and don’t give advice. Just listen.