The Grief Brigade

When tragedy strikes, the counselors rush in. They offer succor, but their methods are up for debate

When the lord of the underworld snatched away her beloved daughter, Demeter was inconsolable. She wandered the world and in her misery allowed the fields to lie barren. In modern parlance, she was "in trauma." Today the Greek goddess of agriculture might have talked about her loss, vented her frustration and worked through her grief. Certainly, she would not have been left alone with her sorrow.

Tragedy is immemorial, but we have grown less tolerant of its psychic consequences. In Littleton, Colo., where Hades visited in the guise of two teenage boys, counselors spent 1,500 hours talking to students in the...

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