What is the role of strength in grieving? Billboards and t-shirts exhort us to be “Umpqua Strong.” Many on campus embody this mantra and blaze onward…”We’re here, we’re alive, and we owe it to those who died to keep moving, to do great things.”

Yet others are still trembling, their steps not quite so sure.

I sat in on a group meeting the other day. It helped to find that I’m not the only one who feels flat, who has a dark place deep within that seems to suck all warmth from my surroundings. #UmpquaStrong? More like #UmpquaNumb.

I sense some impatience, and a lack of understanding and empathy towards those who are more tentative, who are less certain of being okay. I saw a friend today who said he was fine in the immediate aftermath, but this week cannot stop shaking. There may be more of us feeling less okay as time goes by. Grief is an odd thing, and the only certain thing is how unpredictable it is.

What message does #UmpquaStrong send to those who are feeling unsteady? For myself, rather than feeling pride and belonging, I feel shame. I feel worn out. I feel like going back home and crawling under blanket and not coming out until next June.

#UmpquaStrong is a worthwhile goal. But for some of us #UmpquaDoingTheBestWeCan is all we’ve got right now.


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