About 100 people filled the pews of Northern Light United Church on Wednesday evening, listening to community leaders speak about coping with sudden loss.
The community event was held to commemorate the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. But it was also to acknowledge and deal with recent tragedies in Juneau, such as the drowning of two brothers in a boat capsize last month, and the later accidental death of the sole survivor.
Pastor Phil Campbell urged Juneauites not to withdrawal in times of grief and mourning, but to reach out for help.
“That hunger for connection is what brought you here tonight,” Campbell said.
Sponsors of the event passed out fliers with phone numbers of counseling services to call for help, and brochures with advice on dealing with sudden loss.
A short essay by Judy Tatelbaum, a social worker in California who is a popular author and keynote speaker on the grieving process, urged people to ‘do your mourning now.’
“Being strong and brave is important, but I always tell those I counsel to never miss an opportunity to cry,” the one-page essay reads. “That is not self-indulgent, but simply sensible and honest in dealing with your emotions.”
Tatelbaum also says that expressing feelings helps with healing and that seeking support from others can be a source of strength and recovery.
On Wednesday, attendees of the event lit candles and tied white ribbons onto branches of a tree inside the church. Other speakers offered words of advice and prayers.
“Take care of your spirit,” said John Martin, a local Tlingit Elder.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of some local resources are below:
• Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc: Email, email@example.com; Phone, 463-3303
• National Alliance on Mental Illness: Email, firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone, 463-4215
• Juneau Youth Services: Website, jys.org; Phone, 789-4733
• Juneau School District School Psychologists and Counselors: Phone, 780-2063
• Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium: Website, searhc.org; Phone, 364-4445
• Tribal Family and Youth Services — Tlingit and Haida Central Council: Website, ccthita.org/socsys.html; Phone, 463-7169
• Catholic Community Services: Website, ccsjuneau.org; Phone, 463-6180
• University of Alaska Southeast Counseling Services: Phone, 796-6000