Group Offers Randolph Community Grief Resources - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Group Offers Randolph Community Grief Resources

Brooke Bennett Brooke Bennett

Randolph, Vermont - July 7, 2008

It's been five days since Brooke Bennett's body was found in Randolph, and the community is struggling to comprehend what happened. A team of mental health professionals has gathered in Randolph, to help those affected by the tragedy learn how to cope.

The Randolph Area Care Team is a group of mental health professionals, community leaders and clergy members who have come together to help the community heal. They say there are many normal responses to a tragedy like Brooke's murder and a number of ways to cope with those responses.

News of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett's death hit hard in Randolph, and its surrounding towns like Bethel, and Braintree. Hundreds showed up to a memorial service for the murdered girl last week, and many are left struggling with the loss of their friend or loved one.

"I was so worried I couldn't even talk. I was like in shock," said Jaqulyn Lumbra, one of Brooke's best friends.

Experts say it's perfectly normal to experience a number of emotional and physical responses to a crisis like this. Among that list are nightmares, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, lack of eating and trouble concentrating.

Because this crime involved a young girl, many parents are trying to cope with not only their emotions but with their children's emotions as well.

"It's really difficult to process and try to explain to {my daughter} what's going on too," said Kim Abbot, whose daughter went to school with Bennett.

The best thing to do, say the experts, is simply talk.

"Having these conversations with them, not avoiding that conversation and if they don't know where to start that conversation...and they feel really uncomfortable about it to speak to a local clergy member for instance, but the most important thing is speaking about it," explains Randolph Care Team member, Jeff Rothenberg.

Brooke's death, and her uncle's alleged sexual assault of another young girl, have also brought to light the issue of sexual abuse. Experts again say that talking is key if you think your child, or even your child's friend, might be experiencing abuse.

"Speak to their friend first but then speak to somebody else," like a clergy member or doctor, says Rothenberg.

Also, don't feel bad about having a strong reaction to this crime, even if you weren't personally connected to the victims. It's not unusual, says the Care Team, for many community members to feel affected because it involved a child, and because it was drawn out over many days.

The Care Team has a number of resources available to help you cope. You can find those resources at www.randolphcares.org.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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