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‘We are a community hurting’: East Side grief counseling seeks to prevent future violence

4 die in weekend shootings; grief counseling seeks to prevent future violence

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Four people died this weekend as a result of shootings in Indianapolis, leaving many people in the city grieving.

Grief has become a common feeling for families in the city. How to deal with that grief is what community leaders on the East Side are trying to teach people who often are faced with it due to violence.

Sunday marked the second meeting held by the Far East Side Community Council that specifically focuses on dealing with grief after violence. While the timing comes directly after a shooting killed four people in early February, leaders say the conversation was needed well before that incident.

Community leaders wanted to create a place where people can come together, talk, support each other and share resources during a difficult time for many within the east side community.

“It is just not feeling like we have a chance to breathe. Like we literally don’t have a chance to just stop and love each other, stop and talk to each other, stop and share with each other,” said Samantha Douglas with the Far East Side Community Council.

The C.A.F.E. held two grief counseling sessions just after four young people were killed, but Douglas tells News 8 that the meetings were about a much larger issue that the city is facing.

“When you dig deeper, we are a community that is hurting and somehow violence has become acceptable in our behavior, in our minds, and in our mindsets,” said Douglas.

The first meeting focused on those who are grieving a loved one, while Sunday’s meeting focused more service providers who help those who are mourning.

“We talked about, I have a birthday on Monday and I feel guilty celebrating my birthday because of the people that aren’t here. Those are the kind of feeling that as service providers we have,” said Shonna Majors, director of Community Violence Reduction for the city.

Douglas says there is a big hurdle that her community has to figure out how to get over before will be able to move in a positive direction.

“Trust. Our community has experienced a lot of broken promises. We have experienced a lot of people taking advantage of our pain,” she said. “Over the years, in the past, this has created a distrust.”

Douglas says the idea that violence is a reasonable response has to end.

“We know for a fact, hurt people hurt people,” said Douglas. “These kind of shootings and stuff, we like to say it is drugs, it’s this, it’s that, but really it is conflicts. It’s personal conflicts.”

While the quadruple homicide has put a larger focus on violence for many people, the hope is that the call for change will continue until that change actually happens.

“I hope that it keeps people’s attention that these four babies didn’t die in vain.That we get in our hearts, in our souls, and in our spirit that we want to get up as a community and really combat this together,” said Majors.

While Sunday was the last scheduled grief session at CAFE, there are resources available all the time for those looking for help.

Douglas recommends the Success Center in Carriage House East, which has a partnership with Brooke’s Place. They provide child and family counseling. Also, Purpose For My Pain has a West Side support group for gun violence survivors and families.