By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A support group is being organized to help Havre residents deal with their grief in the wake of a car crash that killed two young people.
Whitney Schwan, 16, and Travis Turner, 20, died as a result of a one-car rollover about 4 miles south of Havre on June 19. Schwan and Turner were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown from the vehicle.
Passenger Anthony Bonavita, 18, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered a dislocated shoulder in the crash.
Registered nurse Dana Seidel, who has had experience and training in helping others deal with grief, is organizing a meeting at Havre High School on Thursday at 6 p.m. to help anyone who is grieving.
The meeting appears to be a good idea, said Patti Schwan, Whitney Schwan's mother.
"There are a lot of people out there who need some help," she said.
Seidel said she wanted to hold the meeting because school is out for the summer and young people might not know where to turn.
"The problem is kids aren't in school so there isn't any counseling available," Seidel said.
She said a tragedy like the June 19 crash can affect many more people than just friends and families of the victims. Other people who have lost friends and loved ones might relive their own tragedies.
"It's not just isolated. It brings up a lot of stuff," Seidel said.
Suzanne Lockwood, a professor at Montana State University-Northern's College of Nursing who has a doctorate in psychology, said help for people dealing with grief can be very important. If they don't receive help, it can lead to serious problems, even physical problems like headaches, stomach aches and problems sleeping, she said.
"If people are having difficulty functioning in their daily lives they probably need assistance," Lockwook said.
Seidel said she thinks it is important for people to be able to recognize the symptoms associated with having a traumatic experience or receiving traumatic news, including denial, anger, bargaining and depression.
Holding the grief support meeting will help people recognize those symptoms and help them deal with their feelings, she said, adding that it is important for people to know that it is normal to feel guility or angry about losing friends and loved ones.
Seidel said Lockwood and members of the Havre clergy who have training in grief counseling have been invited to Thursday's meeting. Lockwood will start the meeting with a talk about what people trying to deal with grief usually go through.
If people want more sessions, she will announce other meetings in the future, Seidel said. She said some people might not be able or willing to turn to churches or to professional counselors or psychologists for help.
The Rev. Brad Ulgenes of First Lutheran Church said a group in Chinook that helps parents who have lost their children meets once a month, and registered nurse Sue Swan of the Montana State University-Northern health services holds a yearly grief support group meeting that is open to the public. Local churches also regularly help people deal with grief, he said, but having another avenue is good for the community.
"I think any means to help people through the grieving process would be good," Ulgenes said.
Seidel held a meeting last Friday at the high school to help people deal with their grief, but only members of the community trained in grief counseling were the ones who attended.
Many of the friends of Schwan and Turner were probably overwhelmed with the events of last week, Seidel said. She thinks that may be part of the reason no one showed up for the meeting.