Mourning the Tragic Loss of Nabra Hassanen

Mourning the Tragic Loss of Nabra Hassanen June 21, 2017
Our hearts and prayers are with the Hassanen family and the ADAMS Center community after the burial of a beautiful young woman by the name of Nabra. Nabra’s tragic death is a loss being felt greatly by the American Muslim community nationwide.

Because details of this investigation are unfolding each day, at this time we do not encourage speculating what happened out of respect to all involved. While this news is devastating, we urge you to consider centering the voices of the community involved. Here are some guidelines to engaging in social media discourse regarding this tragedy and supporting others during this time:

  1. Try to keep posts concise and centered on the victims. While it’s human nature to speculate and share up-to-the-date details, this is not always helpful and distracts from remembering and honoring the victims. The tragic event that these young people have witnessed will likely result in trauma they will carry with them for a long time, and we should be mindful of that.

  2. Shut-down victim-blaming of any kind (against Nabra, or those around her), as it removes the focus and blame from the perpetrator. Victim blaming can also trigger or re-traumatize those connected to the situation, or even those watching silently.

  3. Stop before you post something and ask what your intentions are. Could this sharing be done using individual journaling or offline group text versus an online platform? Posting your thoughts online and sharing information can add to the already weighted collective emotions that people are feeling.

  4. Be mindful of context. While the motives of Nabra’s tragic murder remain unclear, we are mindful of the current cultural and political contexts our multiple communities are navigating. Black lives matter. Islamophobia is real. Gender-based violence is rampant. Honor the complexities of these issues when you engage with individuals who are processing the incident. In recognizing the immigration detainer placed by ICE on the assailant, shut down any anti-immigrant sentiments from community members and refrain from demonizing our undocumented family.

  5. Obtain information from news sources rather than social media. Being exposed to numerous posts –  many of which may be inaccurate -, rather than one or two from a reliable news source, can often add to the weighted emotions we’re feeling. Limiting our exposure to concise and reliable sources of news can alleviate this. Yet, it also may be the case that news sources offer conflicting reports. For this reason, it is best to turn to the community immediately impacted. The ADAMS Center website has offered various statements and opportunities for community healing.

  6. Encourage professional support. Tragedies like this often warrant speaking with a trained professional to help you process your emotions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based form of therapy for grief during traumatic events. This can be obtained through in-person counseling or by calling distress center hotlines if more immediate attention is needed.

  7. Focus on self-care. Tragic events such as these can take a toll on our personal health and well being. It is healthy to disconnect and take some time for yourself, doing what brings you peace or sense of awareness. For some, self-care could be being in the presence of others in a community space; praying; writing; or physical activity. One form of self-care could be to try a five-minute breathing and mindfulness exercise. This may help with feeling grounded. Refer to the resources section below for suggested activities.

  8. Take the conversation offline. We all need time and space to process a traumatic event. Consider having a conversation offline privately with friends (given that they are able and willing to hold space with you) instead of on Facebook and enabling others to also add their comments – which may be more harmful than helpful.

  9. Be in community. A powerful way to process a traumatic event and move toward healing is being in community. There are vigils across the country that are taking place in the next week as a way to offer these spaces of support and healing.

  10. Donate. Donate to the Launchgood campaign to help support her family during this trying time.

Please take these points into consideration as our communities collectively move towards healing. Also, check out additional relevant resources below on self-care, supporting survivors, and mindfulness.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, please try to attend tomorrow’s Candlelight Vigil for Nabra and All Victims of State Violence. 


Cognitive and Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Implications for Short-Term Intervention

Grief Counseling: A Huge Business without Regulation


Taking Care of Yourself after a Traumatic Event

National Distress Center Hotline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone

Five-minute Mindfulness Activity

Body-Scan Mindfulness Activity

On Supporting Survivors

AMALA Muslim Youth Hopeline: Call 1-855-95-AMALA for confidential and culturally-competent peer counseling.

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