DENVER (KDVR) — In the wake of another shooting at Denver East High School, students, teachers and parents are now trying to process two horrific events.
Students like Ellie McGoldrick are using words like fear, confusion, anger and sadness to describe how they’re feeling.
“Last weekend, we buried one of our classmates,” McGoldrick said. “This week, we lost another one. We are kids who are losing our friends and are scared for our teachers.”
It’s spring break for McGoldrick and her classmates at Denver East High School, but she said the thought of returning back to school is terrifying.
“There isn’t a way to process this,” McGoldrick said. “Even just the mention my stomach stops. I’m already so anxious and scared to go to school and every time this happens it gets worse, so much worse.”
Clinical Psychologist Sheryl Ziegler said these traumatic events reinforce those greatest fears.
“When you have one traumatic event that can be life-changing in itself, but when you have a multitude of dramatic events it only makes healing and going forth in the future more challenging,” Ziegler said.
She’s hearing first-hand from East High students trying to navigate their emotions.
“A lot of kids are just being together, that’s how we heal, that’s how we get through things is with other people and with relationships,” Ziegler said.
She said students should focus on ways to de-stress including rest, hydration, staying active and staying connected with loved ones.
For parents and supporters, Ziegler said being present is the best thing to do.
“Your presence is what’s most important, your patience with silence is important and not asking a lot of questions right now is key,” Ziegler said. “Just hold the space.”
The first month or so after a traumatic event is filled with lots of shock. Ziegler calls it the acute-stress phase.
She said it’s not until at least a month, people start to see the long-term impacts.