Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart.
“For years I wondered why us. And then I began to wonder, why not us?”
(Handbook for Human Services Response™)
The above survivor met employees who worked for the airline in the fifth year
after the crash that killed her sister. When she learned how much they cared
and how much they had tried to help, but were prevented due to circumstances
beyond their control, she began to connect emotionally with the employees and her
healing was instantaneous. Unfortunately the accident happened before the
Aviation Family Assistance Disaster Act of 1996. Prior to the passage of this law,
attorneys would often enter homes within hours after a crash and prevent the family
from allowing assistance by the airline. This further polarized families from the
company and made it nearly impossible for families to feel compassion or
empathize with the employees.
Empathy and compassion are both generally defined as feeling with someone
else. The two work well together when we learn to show our compassion by
learning to ‘empathize’. Many people feel compassion for survivors of traumatic
loss, but have not learned how to express their compassion. Dr. Brene’ Brown,
a renowned researcher from the University of Houston, teaches that empathy
can be a learned skill set.
In Human Services Response™, the training which the Foundation bases its
communication models on, participants learn to show compassion by
practicing Empathic Responsive Listening™. When survivors are expressing
their feelings, the responder identifies the emotions they are expressing,
validates those emotions, and continues to listen to the survivor with non-judgment.
“The purpose of the journey is compassion. When you have come past the
pairs of opposites, you have compassion.”
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
A well-orchestrated logistical response includes family assistance for both
groups—the employees involved in the tragedy as well as the customers,
passengers and guests—and all respective families. Both employees and the
public are supported equally, with respect for differences in needs and specific
challenges during the first few days of a response.
Research shows that ultimately, this approach promotes connection between
both groups, an integral part of the healing process.
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Aviem & Family Assistance Foundation
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Alpharetta, GA 30022
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