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Originally Posted in The Intelligencer on July 18th, 2017

A Community of Support

Coping with last week’s tragedy will take time and acts of kindness.

By Freda R. Savana
Staff writer

Many families and communities lost a piece of their soul when four young men were found murdered on a farm in Solebury.

Whether they knew Dean Finocchiaro, Tom Meo, Jimi Taro Patrick or Mark Sturgis or didn’t, everyone who learned about the brutal deaths last week were left reeling in shock, searching for answers and stricken with sorrow.

Trying to cope with the senseless horror will take both time and acts of tenderness - strangers and a community wide effort to heal, according to grief counselors.

"This is traumatic, a shock to everyone in the community ... we need each other as we process." said Mary Shull, a therapist and bereavement specialist.

"We’re grieving for them and their families, we’re grieving for those who have lost loved ones in the past, we’re grieving because they were young boys," Shull added.

Adding to the pain, she said, is "confusion in our our minds over what happens to make a mind do that."

Kathy Bennett, associate director at Network of Victims Assistance, has been in the world of grief counseling for two decades. She said people come together in different ways to mourn.

"For some, attending a vigil is meaningful. For others, making a donation helps, or placing flowers at a memorial. Whatever the expression of caring is, it helps in healing," said Bennett.

In part, this tragedy is so difficult for so many because in some ways it was witnessed collectively. "As a community, as an agency, we were intimate with the unfolding of this," Bennett said.

"In Solebury, we were placed in the midst of the event itself. Together, we were all mystified, all concerned and there was always that hope," until there was none.

The bereavement coordinator at Doylestown Hospital’s hospice, Celia Blum, agrees.

"At a time like this people are feeling very helpless. There’s a comfort in community and sharing your sadness, it helps people feel less isolated in their sorrow," she said.

The most common response to traumatic grief, explained Charity O’Reilly, counseling coordinator with NOVA, is shock. And, she added, humans instinctively want to care for those suffering.

"We want to offer physical and emotional support... to let others know, these lives mattered," said O’Reilly. And, she added, "we come together to remember that person."

Moving forward for families and all those who loved the four young men is certain to be an arduous journey. The larger community will also need time to heal from one of the area’s worst mass killings.

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