Don’t grieve alone.
This is one of the messages emphasized at a gathering in Salmon Arm to offer residents affected by the shooting on April 14 practical information and support regarding grieving.
In order to create a private and safe space for citizens, media did not cover the event at the rec centre, but prior to and following the gathering, speakers provided and approved information to be shared with the community.
David Parmenter, the son of Gordon who was killed, said he doesn’t want anyone in the community to be grieving alone in the wake of such a public and traumatic event for the community.
“We are just so overwhelmed by the amount of support we have from all over,” he said of his family. “I can’t imagine doing any of this alone. I think we’re built and created to depend on each other. I think that’s important.”
Capreece Bowers, a clinical counsellor, also spoke of the need for people to connect with one another, and to know the feelings they may be having are normal.
“I’ve seen a lot of people individually who have been very concerned about what they’re feeling isn’t normal,” she says, pointing to heightened anxiety, or physical aspects of grief – perhaps exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
She thinks a lot of people in the community who are not even directly connected to families involved or the church are feeling signs of grief or trauma, and should be reassured that their feelings are normal.
Staff Sgt. Scott West emphasized the community has many resources, both professionally and as volunteers.
The SAFE Society hosted the event in collaboration with agencies such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Interior Health, Shuswap Clinical Counselling Centre, Shuswap Family Resource Centre and RCMP Victim Services. Also providing resources to the community are VictimLinkBC and the Crisis Line.
West noted that grief can be delayed.
“You may not be feeling that grief right now but if some time there’s a court case or hearing coming up it might trigger those types of feelings in a heightened sort of way… Often something out there will trigger what is past which might upset a person in a negative way.”
He encouraged residents to have community resource information on hand in case the feelings come up later.
After speaking briefly, David Parmenter had to leave but provided a note to be read.
”Our goal from the beginning was to not create an atmosphere of vengeance and hate. We are a family of love and as we know with most families it is a “top-down” structure and we are following our father’s lead there… when we regard his attacker we are viewing him as someone who needs help and has begun his young life tragically while my father ended his triumphantly. I want to emphatically state that hateful words and thoughts are a poison when we suffer. I would encourage everyone to focus on the good and pour it into others. It is truly the best medicine. This is my faith perspective and my life perspective and part of the reason we are coping right now.
“Our family is sad and we are crying and sharing lots and trying hard to remember less violence and more love regarding my father.”