Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forwards for Support in Times of Crisis

A forward is simply a text message, usually with a picture and sometimes with music that is sent out with the request to “keep it going” or to “forward to all of your friends.” They are the same as the email forward, but most likely a little shorter. Forwards are something students are used to sending to groups and they realize the value. When you don’t have a set group and need to reach many of your students in times of crisis, a forward may be your best option, which is illustrated in the following story.

Text Talk: Stories from the Counseling Office
It was the first weekend of Christmas break when Ariel, one of the most beautiful, outgoing, friendly students in our school, was tragically hit by a car. She was taken in the flight for life helicopter to the hospital one hour from our town. As word got out, the students started texting me. In the night, during the day, in pain and full of questions. I could quickly answer with what information I had, clear up misinformation, and offer a few words of encouragement. After speaking with Ariel’s father and being aware of the true nature of her condition, that she was brain dead and that they were only keeping her alive on machines so organs could be donated, I could begin preparing the students. Two of her best friends and I prepared a “forward” type picture message with a recent picture of Ariel, her favorite song, and an announcement of the situation. When Ariel did pass, her mother prepared a similar forward with a picture, a song, and the following text:
“To all of my amazing friends
I love you all so much. I am right where I am supposed to be. I am with God. You have all meant so much to me. I don’t want you all to be sad….not for too long anyway. Thank you all for all the amazing memories, you all gave me them to…and I have taken them with me. My most favorite thing in the world to do was to laugh. So please laugh again. You are all so awesome. I am totally at peace. Take care of my mom and yourselves. I love you all…
With all my love
PS please pall along

This started the healing process right away. The remainder of the holiday was spent with all knowing that Ariel was in a better place. Text check-ins and words of comfort and support were what my students preferred from me and what they needed. When we returned to school there was not a typical “crisis” situation where the counseling office is full and there is a lot of open emotional expressions. It was with sadness, but with focus on doing what Ariel would have wanted by moving on and remembering her smile. Thanks to text messaging.

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