Alexander Berman, Jacqueline Berman: Grief counselors converge on Dreyfoos School of the Arts

Students, teachers begin grieving process

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Crisis counselors will again be at the the Dreyfoos School Of The Arts on Tuesday, offering guidance and comfort for the young victims friends and schoolmates. In tragic and traumatic situations like these, grief counselors went straight to work when these young people needed that help most.

Dreyfoos School Of The Arts was once again filled with heartache. This time, it was after two students were found shot dead in their home in West Palm Beach. The victims are brother and sister - Alexander Berman, 16, and Jacqueline Berman, 15. Police say the teenagers were the victims in an apparent murder-suicide.

"When a tragedy like this happens, it can shake up a lot of your sense of security and stability," said Tara Homeier, a licensed clinical social worker.

Homeier is also a grief counselor, with more than a decade of experience. She has been called in to Palm Beach County schools to help those reeling from sudden loss.

"It's real whether you are crying all the time and you see it or you're still making straight A's and acting like nothing is bothering you," she said.

The students of Dreyfoos needed grief counselors not long ago. In July, two custodians were shot and killed inside the school.

"Does it add another element? Absolutely," said Homeier. "You are not just processing one loss or one trauma, you're processing several."

Homeier said the goal is to get grieving students to realize that any response to tragedy is normal. Having them open up through discussion, journaling, drawing or music is very important.

The teenage victims were promising musicians at the arts school.

Grief counselors were on hand at the school on Monday and will return on Tuesday.

"That's a great opportunity for us to talk and not keep it everything bottled up inside," said Mikayla Guerrier, a student at Dreyfoos.

Homeier said this can be a 'conversation starter' for any family - even if there is no connection to this particular case. She says having a calm and direct conversation with your child - at home - can lay the groundwork for dealing with a traumatic situation like this in the future.

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