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Sisters schools co-host online loss, grief counseling after three teens die in crashes

(Update: adding new info, comments from The Dougy Center)

Three current and former Sisters High School students killed in two recent crashes

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Many people in Sisters have been grieving the loss of three current and former Sisters High School students who were killed in two separate car crashes over the last two months.

On Thursday evening, the Sisters School District offered help to those young adults and families in the community who are learning how to heal and cope with such tragedy.

The online session was created in response to the death of three current and former Sisters High School students who were killed in car crashes. On Sept. 23, Rianna McGonagle, 18-year-old Sisters resident and recent graduate was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Josephine County.

Just eight days later, three teens -- two of them Sisters High School students -- were killed when their SUV left a Forest Service road west of Sisters and struck a tree.

The Sisters community is still learning how to live with the loss of those three young women.

With loss, comes grief.

Thursday night, the Sisters School District co-hosted a meeting with The Dougy Center, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, that offers support groups and services to grieving children and young adults, to offer support and education on how to deal with that grief.

The Dougy Center's executive director, Donna Schuurman, explained, "It's not really about what you say. It's about how you listen. You can even say things like, 'There are no words for this situation. I just don't have words. I want you to know that I care.'"

Schuurman said we all respond to loss differently, but a common theme in the healing process for everyone is genuine care -- or as she put it, “feeling felt.”

Schuurman said there are four main steps you can take to help: Listen without judgment, listen without attempting to fix the pain, listen some more, and share memories.

That’s a tool she used with the Sisters School District in response to these recent tragedies.

"I invited them and encouraged them to encourage their students and staff to write memories of these students who died that they will put into a box, to share with their family members,” Schuurman said.

Above all, Shuurman explained, it’s okay to grieve. It doesn't mean people need to be fixed. Rather, it means they need support.

You can visit The Dougy Center website for grief support and resources.

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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