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Dear Hope Family,

 

We regret that we are writing with heavy hearts to inform you that former student Natalie Gulizia passed away on Tuesday night. Natalie graduated from Hope in 2016 and was attending Kennedy Catholic High School. She was a bright, talented, and extremely well-loved young lady. Her brother Nicky attended Hope through sixth grade and many of our current Hope 8th graders remain friends with him.

The circumstances around this are tragic, and there are no adequate words to express the diversity of feelings and thoughts that arise within our souls at a time like this. While it is your choice as a parent whether or not to share this information with your child, please know that there is a high degree of likelihood our older students have already heard or will hear about it eventually as it has been widely shared on the news and social media. Our younger students won’t know the family most likely, but our older students may benefit from hearing about it directly from you as a parent. The CDC and other organizations have some great recommendations for helping students deal with their emotions including talking through this honestly with them and allowing them to briefly see your own grief as well. Here are links to some particularly helpful information if you are interested:

https://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/ccc/patient_education/pepubs/childdeath.pdf

https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2013/09/helping-children-cope-with-a-disaster/

While a situation such as this seems hopeless and does come with overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, and helplessness, we encourage you to remember the truth of Christmas: that Jesus came to be God with us – even in the midst of such an awful moment. Remember the words of scripture that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), that Jesus was sent to “bind up the broken-hearted and provide comfort for those who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2), and He “is with us always, even to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20). No matter what you’re feeling or thinking, give it to God in prayer and trust that He will be with you in it to give you His love, strength, and comfort.

We understand that some of you will want to express care and compassion to Natalie’s family and we will let you know about such opportunities as soon as we have clarity of what would be most helpful to the family at this time. It may help your child to make a card for Nicky, and if we can get those to the family, we will.

If you or your child would like someone to talk with or pray with to process this situation, please contact the church office at 206-937-9330 or email Pastor Peter at pmueller@hopeseattle.org or Kristen Okabayashi at kokabayashi@hopeseattle.org. We also encourage you and your child to name and express your thoughts and feelings as a healthy way of processing such difficult news. Hang on to each other and hang on to Jesus as we need the celebration of His birth a little more this year!

In His Strength and Hope,

 

Peter Mueller, Sr. Pastor           Kristen Okabayashi, Principal