Community, Education, Health & Wellness

Change Starts With Us

Off 13

One year ago, lives were changed forever. It was the day innocent lives were taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for reasons which are still hard to understand. February 14 now has a different meaning to many people. A day always known for representing love is now associated with one of our nation’s worst tragedies.

Since then, a number of students transferred to different schools; others stayed. Some graduated; others went to Washington, D.C. and made historic moves. Several can be seen all over social media and even on our televisions. We thank each and every one of you because all of you represent change.

Change must start somewhere and it started at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. School safety has been the main priority here in Parkland; the name of a city people will never forget. Individuals from all over have come to help physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Money has been raised to assist those who have been affected. Fresh meals have been dropped off to those who could use a helping hand. Stores and restaurants raised money for those who couldn’t fathom going back to work after the tragedy. Bumper stickers saying “MSD Strong” can still be seen on people’s cars. 

A sense of community exists like never before. Acquaintances became friends; friends became family. When regular things like working, cooking, taking care of the house, etc. felt impossible, others came in to help. Thank you to everyone who made a gesture, big or small, because it undoubtedly made a difference in someone’s life.

For many, it is still a daily struggle to cope. Talking to a professional has helped countless individuals, some professionals even volunteering their services at no cost. Talking to those who were there during that time and who also experienced the trauma could be more of a fit for you, especially since they personally understand the lasting effects it can have on a person. You know yourself better than anyone else, so do what works best for you.

Self-care is also important. Trust how you are feeling and remember to go at a pace that you feel comfortable with. Try to rest mentally and physically, and taking time for yourself is never a negative thing. Grief, fear, anxiety, lack of sleep, sometimes even anger, will linger for some time. All should start to get better over time. You may be triggered at times, and that is okay too. Give yourselves a chance to heal.

Being in the “present” can be hard when you are in a state of mind you never thought you would be in. Keeping yourselves around those you love and those who make you happy can help make things more manageable. It will take time to move forward, but our community is making it clear – we are all in this together. Continue to soar high Eagles. We are all so proud of you! Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. Visit

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