Florida Hospital chaplain recalls informing families of Pulse tragedy

49 slain inside Pulse nightclub in Orlando

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - A chaplain who helped authorities notify family members of Pulse victims last June said the experience was sobering and humbling.

Jocelyn Shaw, a senior chaplain at Florida Hospital for Children, accompanied Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents to notify next of kin about the Orlando nightclub massacre that left 49 dead.

Shaw said she was in her second week of work -- on her birthday -- when she was faced with a difficult task.

"I walked in at 7:30 in the morning and it might've been five minutes and from the command center, three FDLE agents walked out and said, 'We were told that chaplains would be here,'" she said. "And it just so happened myself and two other chaplains were standing, waiting to figure out what was the next step, (wondering), 'How could we serve?"

Shaw said she will always remember what was said next.

"One of the agents looking at me and saying, 'Are you ready?' she said. "And I said, 'Yeah, are you ready?' and (then I) said 'This never gets easy."

Shaw described one of her first encounters with a family member.

"So we slowly walked to the door, and I'll never forget, I think it was his sister, who came to the door and there was, like, a window next to the door, and as soon as she saw his badge, she immediately started crying, and screaming, and then yelled for (her) mom."

Shaw said the agent asked the woman her name.

"'Yes, she said, That's my son," Shaw recounted. "And then (the woman) said within her wailing and crying, 'Is he dead?'

Shaw said the raw emotion affected everyone who was present.

"There wasn't a person who was in there who wasn't tearing up, but to be able to witness these, I don't know the faith, background of the FDLE agents, but they were so willing to just jump right in," Shaw said. "The family was willing to let us be with them, in this moment, in their living room, in their house. It was really beautiful to be able to provide that support to the family and to be with them in that moment."

Shaw said she recently came across a list of the 49 victims and added that one name will always take her back to that moment.

"I'll never forget their house. I'll never forget their family. And I'll never forget their pain," she said.

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