Community ready to assist people suffering traumatic loss

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Mark O’Brien, director of the Orleans County Department of Mental Health, led the panel discussion which included information on the grieving process and resources for those who are dealing with sudden traumatic loss.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 17 January 2018 at 9:14 am

KENDALL – “Healing is a process and a journey,” observed Don Snyder, a local clergy member and chaplain of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

Snyder spoke during the conclusion of an “Evening of Healing” on Tuesday at the Kendall Jr./Sr. High School. Snyder said he felt an “incredible power of family” during the event which included a panel discussion, a short informational film featuring personal stories of those who have survived the suicide of a loved one, and an opportunity for questions and answers.

Snyder was part of the panel discussion which covered topics surrounding sudden traumatic loss of a loved one – either through suicide, accident, or medical emergency – and the grieving process of those left behind. Snyder said when people talk about their shared emotions, help and healing are the result.

“Tonight, we are better, and that’s the reason for this gathering tonight,” he said. “There are many caring people here in Orleans County, we know our neighbors here in Orleans County.”

Members of the panel from left to right: Don Snyder, retired minister and  chaplain Orleans County Sheriff’s Office; Holly Baxter, program director of The Care and Crisis Helpline; Paula Callahan, Orleans County Department of Mental Health; Danielle Figura, clinic coordinator for Orleans County Department of Mental Health; Meredith Minier, who lost her husband Lee to suicide and is an Orleans County Suicide Prevention Coalition volunteer; Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public health educator and member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition. Panel members said there is no way to get around the hurt of sudden traumatic loss, but “you don’t have to do it alone, you don’t have to do it without help.”

The evening was sponsored by the Orleans County Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Orleans County Department of Mental Health.

Mark O’Brien, director of the Department of Mental Health, served as emcee for the evening. He noted the Kendall community has suffered much loss over the past several months with the deaths of two young people and four parents.

“There is healing,” O’Brien told those in attendance. “The pain is real. Together we will get to the other side … We are here with you, we are here for you.”

O’Brien said local agencies, including the Department of Mental Health, provide support services.

Advice was also provided for those who know people suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide. Warning signs of suicide such as hopelessness, withdrawal from normal social activities and curiosity about ways to harm oneself, were discussed. Panel members told those attending to “be there” for those who might try to harm themselves – “engage them in conversation.”

A number of local agencies including the Mental Health Association, GCASA, Orleans County Veterans Service Agency, Community Action, Hospice and the county Department of Mental Health provided information on services available locally to those in attendance.

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