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Dean's blog: A collective exhale

Over the past few weeks, as I prepared to blog on significant college milestones, including graduation and a leadership retreat to identify and address current priorities, events of the past few weeks necessitated replacing these recaps with messages of support, understanding, and an opportunity for action.

It’s difficult to find the “right words to say. My deepest condolences, sympathies, thoughts, and prayers cannot mitigate this sense of hopelessness. They cannot bring back the precious lives that were taken in Uvalde, TX. They cannot stop the pain that’s reverberating through our nation. Even still, it’s a small comfort to know we’re not alone in our grief, anger, and fear.

I also want to recognize that I am always working on how to better communicate with you all about social, political or environmental world events. I know some feel comforted when these things are addressed in the workplace, while others look to work as a refuge and safe place, and would prefer we not comment. I am grateful for your feedback as we evolve when and how we respond. 

There is so much going on in our nation and world lately, and it can reach a point where it’s all simply too much. If you find yourself needing to pause, that’s okay. If you find yourself in need of counseling or other resourcesthat’s okay too.

My daughter’s school (she is a first-grade teacher in nearby Montgomery County, MD) shared some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for helping children in particular, but also adults, cope with news such as this. And I’d like to pass them along to you:

  • Limit your child's and your family's media exposure to the events. If you must watch, do so for a brief time, then turn off the media source. Don't sit re-watching the same events over and over again.
  • Focus on your children, family and yourself over the next few days. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level - answer questions when you can and be honest that you may not know all the answers.
  • Remember that your children may be hearing about this event even if you are not talking to them about it. Take some time to determine what you will say as they may have heard both correct and incorrect information. This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists is a helpful guide that provides talking points that are age appropriate.
  • Children - and adults - may have a need to be close and spend time with family. Your physical presence may offer reassurance and support. Hugs and sitting close with your children, extra time at bedtime tucking them in, reading or playing quiet games can reassure and calm them helping to foster a sense of closeness and security that they are loved and safe. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it. 
  • Maintain a "normal" routine to the extent possible - kids may need more time to talk and process. They may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork and falling asleep at night. You as parents may also.

Please continue to show up with grace and patience, for yourself and for others. I hope the extended weekend provided a chance for a collective exhale. Please prioritize time with the people, places, nature or activities that restore you. We will go forward together. One step, one day at a time.