Counselors Offer Support to Grieving Students

A grief counselor offers advice to students and parents on how to cope with the loss of a classmate.

Losing a young classmate can prompt a wide range of emotions and reactions from friends and peers, a grief counselor said after a Chartiers Valley student tragically died.

Diana Hardy, who is a counselor at the Good Grief Center in Pittsburgh, said kids should “get together to talk” about their emotions after Chartiers Valley freshman Scotty Katonka .

“It’s very helpful to listen and to just allow them to express their feelings without stopping them,” Hardy said. “They need to have a safe environment to say whatever they say and won’t be judged.”

brought grief counselors to the high school Thursday for any students . School officials said they would be available indefinitely, although Hardy was somewhat concerned that the grieving process would happen during summer vacation.

“School’s out and sometimes it makes it harder to get together,” Hardy said. “It’s just important to realize that they’re going to be in shock right now and there isn’t a certain timeline or checklist for grief.”

Hardy was interviewed by Chartiers Valley Patch on Thursday and not involved in the grief counseling at the high school.

She said there could be physical reactions such as stomach aches and altered sleep patterns or acting withdrawn, sensitive or angry. She said there are healthy and unhealthy ways to distribute anger. She suggested sparring with a punching bag or screaming into a pillow to relieve anger.

Unhealthy responses include drug or alcohol abuse, or showing signs of being clinically depressed.

“Everyone will grieve differently,” Hardy said. “It’s going to take as long as it takes.”

She said places such as the Good Grief Center and other private counselors are available to help students. She also suggested students and parents talk to the school’s counselors about potential support groups.

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