RCMP officers escort a neighbour as they work outside of a crime scene in Penticton, B.C., on Monday, April 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett

Grieving the four killed in Penticton shooting will take time, expert says

People are going to handle grief differently, including feeling varying emotions, grief expert says

As Penticton begins to mourn after a shooting spree that killed four in an otherwise peaceful community, experts say the grieving process could take weeks or even years.

Jana Abetkoff, a director with the Mental Health and Substance Use Services through Interior Health, told Black Press Media in a phone interview Tuesday the process is unique to each individual and can impact residents far and wide when their community is faced with tragedy.

On Monday, four people were gunned down in a mid-day shooting. A 68-year-old former city employee has been charged but police have yet to detail motive or any circumstances that could have led to such an incident.

VIDEO: Penticton man charged with murder following shooting spree

As the names of the four victims, two men and two women, trickle in from friends and family, Abetkoff said taking the time to feel emotions is a key step in processing the situation.

This can include emotional outbursts, difficulty relaxing, hyper vigilance or withdrawing, as well as physical symptoms such as exhaustion or nausea. Feeling anger, guilt and sadness are also common.

“It’s important for people to be patient with themselves and with others and to honour the feelings and reactions people are having through this very difficult time, and give themselves permission to go through this process,” she explained.

“They could feel okay, and then find out they’re not doing so well, and then bounce back a little bit,” she said, because “the process of recovering from grief and loss is not always linear but can be up and down.”

Community support, shown through vigils or fundraisers for the victim’s families, are ways that can both honour their memories and make space for collective healing.

“Any ways in which people can come together to share their experience, lend support to one another and help to normalize things so they aren’t feeling like they are the only ones that are reacting can all be things that are helpful to the community and to individuals,” Abetkoff said.

She added that as people navigate through rumours that have not been confirmed by police, they should be mindful of how much exposure they’re getting to social media and constant news – factors that can increase distress, for adults but especially children.

“Really keep an eye on how much exposure they have to the event, whether it’s a recognized and valid news source or social media where people are coming about their own ideas,” she said.

Ways to manage their distress and emotions

Through the coming days and weeks, Abetkoff recommended that anyone feeling impacted find trusted people who they can share their feelings with, avoid isolation and watch for personal symptoms as well as symptoms in others.

“Try to keep a balanced viewpoint,” she added, “as these events are extremely rare and, though they are very disrupting and impactful, try to keep in mind of meaningful and comforting events. Doing this can keep perspective on the world.”

Most importantly, Interior Health offers a number of services available to those feeling a great amount of distress, including crisis lines through Interior Health, the provincial crisis centre and the First Nations Health Authority.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sunshine and clouds for Tuesday

Environment Canada is forecasting a mixed bag of conditions

Tunes for Teeth event spreads smiles

Community Dental Access Centre fundraiser features North Okanagan talents

Vernon Friends of the Library celebrates 30 years

The next book sale takes place May 2-4 at the Vernon Curling Club, 3400 39th Avenue.

Pianist brings Keys to Serenity to Vernon

Concert and book signing offers food for the soul

Vernon looks at capping cannabis stores

A 10th business licence application comes before Vernon council Tuesday

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

Salmon Arm couple suspect dog died after eating poisonous plant on hike

Beloved healthy English Springer Spaniel dies suddenly while hiking Shuswap trail

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

‘Significant changes’ coming for Okanagan River Channel tubing company

The Penticton Indian Band’s Coyote Cruises is seeking to grow its business in the coming years.

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

South Okanagan community bands together on social media after shootings

Many in Penticton have turned to social media to express their condolences

Pacific Poke bowl lovers can get a free taste at the restaurant’s ‘Grand Opening Event’

The restaurant will offer some of its specials Thursday evening at its Kelowna location

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Speed humps to be considered for Peachland

The proposed speed humps would help reduce speeds on Beach Avenue

Most Read