April 17, 2018 5:59 pm
Updated: April 18, 2018 6:30 am

Supporting those affected by Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy

WATCH ABOVE: Community support for first responders, family and friends touched by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy is crucial now and in the weeks to come. Meaghan Craig reports.

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There is no right or wrong way to mourn especially when it comes to a tragedy of such enormity that has touched thousands of lives.

For some it might be time to power down and step away from the unspeakable loss as the result of a collision on April 6 between a semi and the Humboldt Broncos‘ passenger bus.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Evan Thomas remembered at SaskTel Centre

The bus and semi flipped over after the crash.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

For the family and friends of the victims and survivors aboard the bus that likely isn’t possible. During their darkest days, the Saskatchewan Health Authority is there to assist those who need help navigating through the grief.

“If family and friends feel the need – just reach out to them,” Jennifer Chouinard, with the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, said.

“They’re trained for those situations that are unbearable.”

WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid hopes Humboldt Broncos visit ‘put some smiles on faces’

It can be easy to feel alone with trauma of this magnitude but studies have shown having meaningful social connection and family connections in your life can help a person heal.

“When you bottle it up and just keep pushing it down, I don’t think that’s going to help anyone,” Chouinard added.

Mourners comfort each other as people attend a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt Broncos, to honour the victims of the crash.

Jonathan Hayward/Pool via Reuters

For years, Chouinard worked as a social worker involved in crisis and trauma. She now studies mental health supports for first responders and knows the type of toll trauma can take on a person.

The reaction a front-line worker can have after running towards a crisis instead of away.

WATCH BELOW: Managing grief in the wake of Humboldt Broncos bus crash

“I think it shakes your sense of safety for sure and your world view,” Chouinard explained.

“The world is different, it’s less safe now for a lot of people and it’s going to be adjusting now to this new reality.”

READ MORE: Mental health support ‘crucial’ for Humboldt crash first responders

An estimated 80 responders were on scene that evening and that may be a conservative figure. Resources from Tisdale, Nipawin, Zenon Park, Carrot River, Melfort and beyond were dispatched to the collision site.

Members of the RCMP lay flowers at the intersection of a crash site near Tisdale, Sask., Sunday, April, 8, 2018.

Immediately after, mental health supports were sent to the region including a team from the Saskatoon Fire Department.

“I think that’s one of the best things that we can do for them just tell them that if you’re feeling horrible about this, if you’re in pain, it’s safe to come forward because the community supports you,” Chouinard remarked.

The symptoms of loss, shock and grief, explained Chouinard, can look a lot like PTSD but that pain can also be resolved with the right supports.

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