WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A week after 19-year-old CFCC student Josh Proutey was murdered in downtown Wilmington the community continues to mourn. Today, counselors offered their support at a public grief forum. Counselors hope this afternoon's forum will be the first step in the healing process.
“We certainly face tragedy around the world,” said New Hanover County Schools lead counselor Lisa Burriss. “But when we see it up close and personal, it just touches people very differently."
Children, fellow students, and adults were all invited to the grief forum in hopes they could find healing by coming together.
"A sense of community comes from joining together and working through difficult times that may result in grief and loss. I think it's vital to offer the opportunity," said Burriss.
Counselors from New Hanover County Schools volunteered their time today to help friends and community members who are still coping with the loss. They say it has left people of all ages dealing with many difficult emotions here at the holidays.
"[Proutey] was well-known and liked and very involved with the young people and the adults as well. So it does make it difficult, it makes it real," said Burriss.
Burriss says that the tragedy in Connecticut, combined with this loss so close to home, is hitting area children particularly hard.
"We state this didn't happen here and we have safety factors in place. But, to be followed by an incident in our community certainly is a concern that we have."
Burriss adds making sure your child feels safe is the most important thing parents can do.
"We want to reinstate their sense of safety and security. And truly it's a lesson in life that there hard hardships and sad things that occur but we're going to be okay.”
Burriss says that during difficult times, parents should keep the lines of communication open with their children and watch for any changes in mood or behavior.