Grieving and processing tragedy

My phone and email have been very busy lately with community members who want to talk about the heart-breaking event in our island community this month.

Once I establish in these conversations that I will not speak of details in this case ,they go on to share how they feel sadness, shock, anger and disbelief, along with thoughts of personal responsibility, victim blaming, minimizing etc. Throughout all of the conversations there seems to be one common thread: a rising call to action. “What can be done? What can our community do?” And, “What can I do personally?”

First of all, let’s allow ourselves and each other the time and space to grieve and process this tragedy. And as we heal let’s allow the momentum created by this trauma to give rise to a community, who loudly and clearly says: “no more.” No more turning our head the other way because, “it’s just not my business.” No more: “why doesn’t she just leave (victim blaming)?” No more: “I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just stay out of it.” No more: “it doesn’t happen; on our islands, or among my friends or family.” Let’s become a community of engaged bystanders who create safe and open spaces where friends, families and other community members will know they will be believed, validated and protected when they break the silence that fosters abusive environments.

Domestic Violence Action Month will soon be here. Once again you will see silhouettes on the courthouse lawn in Friday Harbor and on the Village Greens on Lopez and Orcas throughout the month of October. These installations honor all of the people who lost their lives due to domestic violence in the State of Washington in 2015.

Take the time to engage with this presentation. Read the heart breaking stories of these children and adults, both male and female, all killed by someone they should have been able to trust. Imagine who each of these individuals were, the lives they lived and lost. Leave a flower, share your thoughts in the journal provided and linger in honor of the lives lost, the families left behind, and the communities just like ours, struggling to make sense out of such a senseless and devastating loss. And plan now to attend the lunch hour vigil (12–12:30 p.m.) at the site of the silhouettes on your island. Orcas: Oct. 19, Friday Harbor: Oc.t 21, Lopez: Oct. 28.

SAFE San Juans is always available to talk with you personally or to a group you may be a part of about how you can join the effort to empower our islands to live free of abuse. Check out our website at to learn more.