Grief Leadership: Leadership in the Wake of Tragedy

In a world where we learn about traumatic events quickly and suddenly through television, social media, or newspaper coverage, many people can be suddenly and deeply affected by grief over the loss of loved ones, friends or relatives. Leaders play critical roles in the recovery of communities and individuals after disasters. Leaders identify the way forward, and hear and understand the present emotions and needs of their community. They communicate and reflect the community’s feelings and shared experience in order to lead the community in recovery.

Understanding how people react to tragic events and the roles leaders play in recovery is critical to effective leadership. In the aftermath of traumatic events, many children and their parents, even those not living in close proximity to the event, want to hear guidance from their community’s leaders. In this acute phase, leaders must communicate effectively to people who have questions, seek reassurance, and want to take action.

As shock and horror turn to sorrow and mourning, leaders are responsible for identifying the timing of when a community is ready for the next step forward and how best to speak the language of each community to help individuals, families, and care providers.

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