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Grief during the holidays – reflections and solutions


Dr K, herself no stranger to loss and grief, created a discussion titled: Unpacking grief during the holidays – reflections and solutions. She dedicated the hour-long show to the three slain students at UVA who were not only talented student athletes, but sons from communities who will grieve for them.

Highlighting the mental health burden of grief, she invited three leading Black mental health experts for a conversation on grief and death by gun violence. She was joined on BDO ( BlackDoctor. org) by Dr Vanessa Freeman, a military psychiatrist; Dr Napolean Higgins, an pediatric/adolescent psychiatrist; and Dr Rahn Bailey, the Chairman of Psychiatry at LSU Health Science Center.  The show was also moderated by Dr Jehan “Gigi” El-Bayoumi, the founder of Rodham Institute in Washington, DC.

Dr Freeman began by defining grief. She explained the pioneering work by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 On Death and Dying, in which Kübler-Ross proposed that people go through ‘five stages of grief’ and how the phases – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – may not necessarily occur in sequence and that a person may struggle to get acceptance. Holidays are a time for family gatherings and customs, magnifying the loss and causing an acute grief reaction all over again.

Dr Higgins explained how America’s easy access to guns can turn a mental health crisis in an individual into a deadly event. He stated that homicide is often the initial act before a planned suicide. Reflecting on the senseless killing of the students at UVA, Lavel Davis Jr, Devin Chander, and D’Sean Perry. Dr Outler asked this veteran adolescent psychiatrist to help us understand better how and why this happened.

Dr Bailey, who has written a book on gun violence entitled At Gunpoint, mentioned that New Orleans the home of LSU Health Science Center, is one of the leading areas affected by gun violence with rates substantially higher than other parts of the country.  Because gun violence coverage is often politicized, it often skews the data on the impact of gun violence and in turn, negatively affects our ability to craft solutions and allocate resources.

Dr K also remined us that the coverage of gunviolence and suicide, as in the case of Twitch, the beloved dancer and DJ often leads to sensationalism and not meaningful calls to action. We have to get guns off the streets and out of the  hands of maladative indivuals.

Dr Gigi said that when the mainstream media doesn’t cover shootings in Black communities to the degree that they might when a shooting occurs in a White community, the implicit message is that Black lives don’t matter, which in turn has ramifications for mental health, alienation, hopelessness, and self-worth.

You can watch the entire piece below:









Uzima has covered the topic of gun violence in some depth – click on the button for a:





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