SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – Monday evening John Cooksey died after being shot over the weekend. The Savannah boy was just 12 years-old.
Tuesday morning his classmates and peers headed back to class at Oglethorpe Charter School knowing there would be an empty desk.
Losing a loved one is an incredible shock and grief for someone to bear, let alone a child.
This is where the people in purple shirts step up to help.
The Savannah Chatham County Public School System’s Crisis Response Team led by Dr. Quentina Miller-Fields is spread out around the county on Tuesday offering support to students and staff.
“We lost one of our family members,” Miller-Fields said. “It impacts siblings, it impacts other relatives, so we go to a school where there is a larger need. ”
One of those schools was Haven Elementary. Miller-Fields says different schools are chosen based on the need and depth of the loss, including if the deceased had neighbors, friends or family at other schools.
“Everybody grieves in different ways on different days,” she said. People who choose to come individually or with a group to the secluded room are greeted with a group of social workers and other support staff. Clients can choose to talk or draw with the staff member all at no added cost.
Marriage and Family Therapist Steve Weinman says parents should also be a part of the grieving process in one specific way.
“Just listen,” he said. “Just hear what you have to say. About how their feeling about the incident, how its affected them.”
He says if a child isn’t keen on opening up about themselves to consider asking them how the tragedy is affecting their friends, school and greater community.
Whether expressing through art or conversation, counselors want kids to kid they don’t have to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death alone.
“So don’t feel like you have to carry that heavy burden. There is someone here that can provide some service to you,” Miller-Fields said.
SCCPSS support services are offered year round for students and staff all at no charge.