Family Focus: Counselor helps people handle emotions after tragedy

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

The school shooting in Connecticut is bringing up painful and unrelated memories for many people.

A grief counselor explained how she helps people cope.

"I've had people calling me saying, 'I just haven't been able to stop crying,'" said counselor Mandy Eppley.

Since the school shooting in Connecticut, people are overwhelmed with grief.

"Some calls I've gotten this week have been people who had a trauma in their past, and this has triggered and brought those feelings back up," Eppley said.

Eppley said feeling sorrow, anxiety or anger is normal.

When people don't grieve, that can trigger problems.

"Not feeling feelings, minimizing feelings, pretending, leads to depression, acting out behaviors and addiction," she said.

Eppley works at The Respite, a nonprofit holistic wellness center that helps people cope with loss in a healthy way.

When grief takes a physical toll, massage can be an early intervention.

"When everything is so raw and fresh, you feel it in your body, muscles ache, you can't sleep," Aimee Taylor said.

In an art therapy class called Soul Collage, people work through emotions on paper.

In the wake of the tragedy, the images speak out against violence.

"They leave and have these cards as visual reminders to remind them what they want to focus on and remind them what they want to do in the world," Eppley said. "And it really does make a difference."