With the one year anniversary of the bus crash looming over the ACU campus, it seems appropriate to assess the progress that has been made by those who were affected by the one-vehicle roll that took the life of an ACU student last fall.
Witnessing the aftermath of an accident of this scale no doubt caught many students in the ACU community off-guard, making this past year a learning experience for many on how to handle grief.
After the initial chaos and confusion that came with the news of the accident, the first coping instinct seemed to be trying to cover over the tragedy, which created an air of silence around it.
Now, though many of the physical hurts have healed, there is still a lot of emotional and mental struggles that have not gone away.
Not talking about the accident and avoiding bringing it up around victims and those close to them only seem to make matters worse. Those affected, whether on the bus or not, need the support of fellowship to help them heal. They need a safe way to communicate their struggles to others. If they feel awkward about bringing it up, or if they feel others will be uncomfortable if they mention it, they are being denied the opportunity to openly process what they have experienced. If they are never presented with an opportunity to discuss it, they will have to process it alone which can leave many of their concerns or internal conflicts unaddressed.
Community is an essential component of healing. It was the coming together of the ACU community immediately after the accident that initially contributed to the healing process for all, and it is community that will continue to bring closure, tie up loose ends and enable victims to work out what happened in a way that is reassuring and healthy for them. That is why things such as dedicating Chapel to remembering the accident are important and helpful.
A hurting community that is conditioned to be silent about its pains will never heal completely. But a community that is open to talking about real struggles and praises can help spread the word of needs that still haven’t been met. There may also be opportunities to share lessons learned that could help others who may be feeling the same way.
Though there is much rejoicing in ways in which God has brought healing after the accident, there are also many hurts that still need to be cared for and it is through an open and loving community that these hurts can be talked about and mended.