Wednesday, March 16, 2016

6 Years

I dreamed about you the other night. I spoke to you. Finally. It seemed like hours before I realized it was you. Why is that? As soon as I did, as soon as my brain caught up with me and I figured out that it was your face, and your eyes, I panicked. I panicked because I knew you’d leave.

I begged you not to. Wrapped my arms around you, pleaded with you to stay. Please stay this time. Don’t go. Not yet.

You told me you couldn’t. That I knew you couldn’t. Just a few more minutes, but then you’d have to go.

Even still.

Six years on and even still, I want you to stay, need you to stay. I want to tell you everything. I want to catch you up. Even though I know it’s impossible, that there could never be enough time.

I had her, Craig. The most perfect daughter. She’s sweet and she’s funny. Delicious rolls and beautiful blue eyes. She’s everything.

For some reason she makes me think of you. Not reminds me of you, but makes me think about you, and us, and how everything that has happened has led up to her. This perfect little creature.

I find myself mourning you all over again.

For a different reason now. It’s another thing you are missing, another thing I can’t tell you about. And I want to. Because you would understand how long I waited, how hard it was to have her. How much I love being with her and how deeply lonely it can be when it’s just the two of us. I want to see you marvel at how she is the perfect mix of me and her father, his eyes and my nose. I want to hear you say congratulations, that you knew it would happen, that this is what you always wanted for me.

But I can’t.

I want to tell you about how it makes me afraid now. Want to put my head on your shoulder, listen to you listen to me about how I can’t have peace anymore. How I will always worry. Because in the pit of my stomach I know, really know, that I cannot protect her from everything. That no matter how safe I make her, no matter how careful I am, there will always be things that I cannot protect her from, people I cannot protect her against. There could always be someone driving home from a night shift, drifting off to sleep behind the wheel. I lay awake at night, staring up at the ceiling in the dark, and try to convince myself to stop being so afraid.

But I can’t.

I desperately want to be the kind of woman I want her to aspire to. Strong and brave and fierce. Career in one hand, happiness in the other. I want her to be full of ideas and inspiration, to take on the world without pause. To be resilient. I want to show her how to be independent, to thrive, to always find joy.

But I can’t.

I feel as though I am failing already. Because I don’t feel like the hopeful, optimistic mothers I see around me. Their children are their delight and the futures are open. I want to feel these things. So badly. Instead I feel that fear, that worry, that someone somewhere could snatch her away from me. It happened with you, and I couldn’t stop it. No matter how vigilant and careful I was, I couldn’t stop it. What if I can’t stop it again?

All the strides I thought I took over the last six years seem to have disappeared. A few hours in the delivery room and I am back to that scared, trembling creature I was the day you were taken away. In truth it started before that, as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I so badly wanted to enjoy it. I earned that, after everything.

But I couldn’t.

I remember being happy. Do you remember? We were. Not always, but sometimes. Right before your accident we were happy. I was planning your birthday surprise, enjoying work, looking forward to the end of busy season. We had plans. Plans for the next twenty years. Plans for dinner that night. And I couldn’t wait. It felt as if I stopped being vigilant, stopped worrying and then it happened. So when I saw that little blue plus sign that I waited so long for, suffered so much for, I just couldn’t let myself be happy. Imagine what could have happened if I’d let myself be happy.

Instead I worried. And was afraid. And worried some more. I thought if I could just make it to her birth, I could relax. If I could just get her here. And I did and it was hard and it was painful but I did. And I had that one sweet moment of total relief, of joy.

But it didn’t take long for the fear to come creeping back.

And I wonder sometimes what kind of legacy that must be. That the way I still feel you in my life is like a shadow, always hovering near the corner of my eye, that dread in the pit of my stomach. I know what fear is now, know that there are things to be afraid of. That you can love someone and lose them in the blink of an eye.

I don’t want it to be this way.

I want to remember you and smile. I want to think fondly of you, to talk about you with warmth. I want the way you touched my life to be happiness.

These are the things I wish I could tell you.

I think you would understand.

I wish you could.

I love you, I miss you. Don’t forget me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Real Stages of Grief

Here is a fun little fact most people don't know: The "Stages of Grief" (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) were actually written about someone coming to terms with their own death, not the death of someone they loved.

How do I know this?

1) A rather reliable shrink told me.

2) Because I've grieved.

Which means, if you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, you can throw that list right out the window. In fact, please do.

Grief is actually not a linear path. It has no set sequence, no list you check off as you make your way along.

The truth is, it looks rather like the picture above - a jumbled mess.

And, as many times as you've heard me say it, no two paths are the same.

Today I want to talk about those emotional "stages" in grief because someone chose to point out on the anniversary of my husband's death that we should not get "caught up in anger" about the loss of our loved ones. This strikes a particular chord with me for three reasons:

1) It made me angry.

2) Anger is an emotion - it is neither right nor wrong and, thus, morally neutral (i.e. neither something we "should" or "should not" do).

3) Anger is a perfectly natural, normal, and healthy part of grieving.

Today I thought I'd look back on the last four years without Craig and give you a bit of a rundown of my own personal "stages" of grief, to show you what my own emotional journey looked like. It goes a little something like this:

1) SHOCK. Complete and utter, mind-numbing shock. Like everything happening around me had a sort of dream-like quality, as if it wasn't real but rather something I was watching on television. If I reached out and touched it, the set would just turn off. Only it didn't.

2) Horror. So much horror. Imagining the details, the breaking of bones, the blood, the violence, the pain and suffering Craig went through. That this could happen to anyone. That this could happen to the person that I loved so dearly.

3) Anger. At God, at myself, at everyone around me. At fate, at the other driver, at bad luck, and bad timing. And the police, at the investigators, at the court system, at the lawyers, and the insurance companies. At that bank and every other institution who made it as hard for me as possible, for no reason at all. All out, blood boiling, rage. Seeing spots.

4) Total despair. Lying on the floor, clutching Craig's clothing, unable to get up for days, despair. A despair so deep and so big I felt it in every part of me. My wrists ached with it. My teeth throbbed. My ribs heaved. My ankles, my toes, my heart, my shoulders, my head... every single part of me felt that despair.

5) Stages 1 - 4 on repeat, back and forth, switching places, for weeks and weeks and months and months.

6) Loneliness. Not, gosh-I-hate-having-no-plans-on-a-Friday-night loneliness. But the kind of loneliness that comes from having a friend so connected and so close that every thought that bounced around in your head all day was sent over to them. Every action, every breath was in anticipation of telling them, showing them, laughing with them. Then coming home, walking in the door, and feeling an emptiness so complete and so thick the very walls around you felt menacing.

7) Fear. Fear down to your very bones. That this is it. That you will never see them again, hear them again, touch them again. That all the pain and the despair and the loneliness and the anger will never end. That there is no reprieve. That this is not an injury that heals or a wound that will get better... that all these things will stay with you forever and ever. That every step outside your front door could be your last. That it never happened at all.

8) Confusion. About everything. Who am I now? What do I do next? What would he want? What does everyone else want? What are they expecting from me? How am I supposed to do this? Where did I put my keys? Why is my milk in the pantry and my shoes in the fridge?

9) Stages 1 - 8 on repeat, back and forth, switching places, for weeks and weeks and months and months.

10) Grim determination. It is time to lug around that boulder. It is chained to you forever, so you'd better get used to dragging it. Bend at the knees, put your weight into it, and start struggling inch by miserable inch. Often accompanied by: misery, angst, despair, more anger, and even more fear.

11) Even more anger. The more details that emerge, the more cliches you hear, the more the unfairness settles in.

12) Emptiness. The feeling of being gutted. Of watching everyone around you carry on with their lives, as though nothing had happened at all. It is just you who struggles to get out of bed in the morning. Just you who cries at stop lights or in the candy aisle at grocery stores. It is just you flipping through worn memories at night and looking longingly for hours at photographs that will never, ever be the real thing. Not even close. There is nothing left. Nothing.

13) Sprinklings of joy. Here and there. Very, very tiny at first. Mustard seed tiny. A split second. Maybe the feeling of sunshine on your face after months of forgetting "outside" was a real thing. Suddenly waking up and discovering you can taste your food for a second - it isn't all made of sawdust. A hug that feels good instead of just sad.

14) Guilt. Because how can you smile and forget for even one second? Because you can go on living, even against your own will. Because no matter what you know logically, inside your worn, aching heart and wrists and bones and eyes there is a yearning for a life beyond this and an understanding that you did not earn it.

15) Still anger. Because it hasn't gotten any fairer, any righter, any less permanent.

16) Stages 1 - 15, on repeat, back and forth, switching places, for weeks and weeks and months and months. Eventually years and years.

17) Calm. Not an acceptance, no. Because you can never really accept that this is it, that it is over, that a person so alive can just suddenly cease to exist. But calm that comes from dragging the weight of it with you, learning to live with it rather than just survive it.

18) And, yes, still sometimes anger.

19) Still despair, still loneliness, still shock. Less often, further apart. But still very much there.

20) Stages 1 - 20, on repeat, back and forth, switching places, forever.

You can choose to live after you lose someone. You can choose to move forward (though not "on") with your life. You can choose to seek out new experiences, new wonder, new joy.

You cannot choose your feelings. Feelings are something you experience, uninvited. If you could choose them, wouldn't we all simply choose bliss at all times? Pain happens to us. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Despair. Loneliness. We can channel these feelings into something, propelling us forward. We can ride the wave, experiencing them, choosing not to fight it. We can reflect on them, analyze them, attempt to understand. But ultimately, they come at us against our will.

To imply otherwise, is not only unkind, it is wrong.

We are entitled to feel grief.

For most, grief will include all the feelings I outlined above.

Yes, this includes anger. It is okay to be angry your loved one is gone.

It is okay to be angry about how and why it happened. It is okay to feel that anger on day 1 as well as day 1,460.

I know this because I have. And I do.

Even still.

If you are grieving, be gentle with yourself. Let yourself feel. You are allowed to. If you know someone who is grieving, try to understand, they will feel what they will feel, whether you approve or not. It is their journey, not yours. They are entitled to it.

Without your "should-ing".

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Second Death

I think, perhaps, death would be much easier to endure if we only had to suffer it once.

Losing Craig was beyond painful. Suffocatingly so. To have someone there and then just... gone. No goodbyes, no farewells, no chance to fight. Movies have lured us into a false sense of what is real. We think that when death comes, we will get the chance to fight it off. That if we persevere, are good, remain true, somehow we just might be able to thrust it backwards. In movies, love conquers all, endures forever, and even cruel fate can be usurped.

The truth is much less elegant.

Death is ugly. It is mean, it is cruel. It doesn't just steal towards you in the dark of night. It comes on days that are bright and sunny, when you are smiling and laughing, utterly unprepared. It just comes and takes. You don't always get to fight. In fact, you rarely know it has come until after it has gone.

The emptiness death leaves behind is the worst kind of pain. There is no remedy, no cure, no solace. Time does not heal all wounds. It just puts distance between you and that wound. But the injury never loses its sting. You just grow more accustomed to hurting.

The first death, the physical one, is when our loved one is taken from us.

The injustice of it... we weep, we scream, we beg. But it is so permanent. So terrifyingly permanent. There are no trades for more time, no bartering that is possible. Rather than the depth of our love saving us as we think it should, it merely makes the loss that much more apparent.

We learn to get by with nothing, desperately trying to fill that ache with tasks that need to be finished, photos we clutch at night, clothes that carry the smell of the one we love. But still, really, we have nothing.

The empty spaces fill with fear.

Fear that we will never see our loved one again, fear that there is nothing beyond our life here, that they have disappeared from existence entirely. That we will too. Fear that fate is fickle, that nothing is sacred, that we will never be safe again.

Most importantly we fear forgetting.

That the person we once loved so desperately, so fully, will fade from our memory, that we will have moments of laughter without guilt, that life will go on without them.

This is the second death.

The first, raw, quick, over before we have a chance to comprehend. It rips and tears and is gone, leaving pain. So much pain.

The second death takes its time. It is years. Slow, long years.

Days go by and we get older while our loved one does not. Not just hours but days, even weeks, go by without us shedding a tear. We carry around photos but don't look at them as often. Clothes are given away. Things that collect dust are eventually thrown out. What was once the most important item in the world, even if just a lowly cufflink, now becomes one more reminder that no longer seems to remind.

Then one day we realize we no longer hear our loved one's voice in our head, knocking our thoughts about at all hours of the day.

We can't remember quite what that crease by their left eye looked like when they smiled.

We pick at our memories now, fewer and fewer of them, worn thin by overuse.

Eventually we cannot recall their voice exactly. Photos seem two-dimensional.

We ache over what we felt. Only we can't remember it all quite so well now.

It is terrifying.

This new kind of death is just as permanent as the first. How can you remember something that is now gone? How can you feel the touch of someone's skin when it is no longer there? How can you hear someone call your name so sweetly when they have been silent for years?

So you mourn.

You mourn all over again.

This second loss stripping you of the poor shadow of a person you so carefully clutched. The world you built up, trinkets and photos and notes to remind you, collecting dust and not bringing forth memories with quite the potency they once did.

It is like losing someone twice.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

3 Years

Normally on each anniversary I pen a letter to Craig here on my blog, filling him on on what he has missed, what I want to tell him. Somehow I imagine these letters floating about in cyberspace, making their way to him by osmosis. I talk to Craig every day, but I like the ritual of summarizing my year for him on such an important date.

I've been crafting this year's letter in my head for a few weeks now.

Sadly, I didn't quite get to positing it yesterday. Not because I didn't have time or because I didn't want to. For some reason, this year above any other, I was sucker-punched by the anniversary. I spent most of the day trying to distract myself, trying to hold it together, trying to forget who I was, what had happened. Sometimes the anticipation of these big days can build and build, weighted with expectation, dragging you further into grief.

This year I felt especially isolated, particularly alone.

I had expectations about being three years out, I think. Ridiculous ones.

That, by this point, I would be fine, I would be ok, I would be better. As if "better" somehow has any meaning.

Except... I'm not fine, I'm not ok, I'm not really better.

By that I mean, I still feel every inch a widow. I still walk around, carrying it with me every day. I still feel that grief and that loss all the time. I still miss him, I still talk to him, I still wish he was here.

It still catches in my throat and breaks my heart.

I still feel that pinch in my chest and have to look away to swallow back tears.

I still feel the taint of death on my life.

I was asked yesterday if I had any peace over what happened. My answer?


I don't think that peace is possible. Peace implies some sort of acceptance. A sense of calm or ease with how things are.

Rather, I think I have, like the countless widows before me, found a way to live with the grief. It is my constant companion. I carry it with me because I never stop being aware of that loss. I function, I go to work, I live my life. I even have joy. But I still have the grief with me.

This is not a matter of choice.

Grief and loss shapes us. We can't help but have that nagging feeling something is missing. Imagine you are piling your family into the car before a long road trip but you left little Johnny at the kitchen table - instently you can feel that disorientation because someone is missing, that you are forgetting something very important.

That is how it has felt, every day, for 3 years.

So, because of this, my 3 year letter will be a little shorter than others:

Dear Craig,

I still love you. I still miss you. I'm still waiting.

Your Emily

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Grief is Bigger Than Your Grief

This week I had a rather miserable experience with someone supposedly in the bereavement industry. I say supposedly because she seemed a bit of a fraud (ok, not a bit) and broke the cardinal rule of grieving: comparing one person's grief to someone else's.

Now I'm not going to say I'm innocent of this infraction. In the early days of my grief journey, I found myself doing this quite a bit. A great deal of that came from a place of confusion and heartache and, frankly, a deep desire to actually find someone I could relate to, who was going through exactly what I was going through.

Of course I never did find that person because, as I learned, you can't. No two grief journeys are the same. No two losses are the same. No two loved ones are the same. What we do have, are shared themes. The feelings of hopelessness, despair, anger. Asking ourselves over and over what happened and why. Wondering where that person is now. You get the idea. These are the things that bond us in our loss.

Now I'm not about to declare that all grief is the same either. I've lost grandparents, pets, friends, and a husband. Losing my husband was definitely the hardest for me. Emphasis on the for me. As I said, every person is different. Some people may experience what has been dubbed, "complicated grief". This often occurs when the death is violent, sudden/unexpected, or occurs at a very young age. It can be so shocking to the bereaved, they experience a traumatic type of grief, impacting every area of their life for prolonged periods.

After working with memebers of the widowed community for the last couple years, I have heard, time and time again, the debate rage over which is worse: a sudden death or one after a long illness. In fact, I heard a fellow widow say it just the other day - that their loss was much harder because they had to see their spouse suffer for so long. Not only is this statement offensive because it minimizes the grief of those who have had sudden losses, but it is factually incorrect. Numerous studies have been done to evaluate which type of loss is more difficult to overcome. When I say numerous, I mean dozens and dozens. The conclusion? Every single study declared their results inconclusive. With a long drawn out illness you must watch your spouse suffer in pain, losing their dignity, their health, their happiness. With a sudden loss, you may be utterly unprepared, never even getting to say goodbye. You see where I am going with this? They both suck. Period.

In getting back to my little incident this week, the "professional" told me that losing my husband didn't even compare to losing a child. That losing a child is ten times worse. She even said, "You can always go out and get another spouse." Silly me, I must have passed that aisle in the grocery store: Replacement Husbands. Complete with handy tool belt, socks to leave lying around, and on sale now!

I asked her if she'd ever lost either a husband or a child. No, she hadn't. When I asked her how she could possibly know which was worse, she told me that as a mother, she knew. Which, to me, would sort of be like saying that as a wife, I knew losing a husband was worse. It was ridiculous.

Her comments were so hostile and antagonistic (not to mention completely ignorant), it took pretty much everything in me not to upend her coffee table and scream, "HULK SMASH!" She proceeded to tear me a new one for a good 20 minutes while my blood pressure shot through the roof and I mentally slipped away to my happy place (lalalala la la la la la la laaaaa). I tried to calmly and rationally explain that while I had never lost a grown child, I had lost a baby, and they both sucked. That grief was grief and you can never possibly imagine the pain of losing a spouse, until you go through it yourself (something I recognize about losing a child and the primary reason I wouldn't argue that one is worse). It was all for naught, however. I ended up leaving, tears streaming down my face, storming back to my car (Sidenote: Sorry to the poor man I was walking behind who kept looking over his shoulder at me looking more and more terrified).

It was amazing that after all these years, someone's ignorance like that could still get to me. And so much! I was distraught the rest of the day and ranted about it to anyone who would listen for the rest of the week. The lack of empathy and total lack of professionalism where shocking.

So what makes people fly off the handle and enter into these silly competitions of comparing their grief? (Or in her case, comparing the grief of other people, not even her own)?

Partly I think it is a lack of awareness. Sometimes this is just a natural part of the early grieving process - we only see our pain because it is so big, it blocks out anything else (or anyone else). For some, I think it is a way of making themselves feel better. If my grief is worse than anyone else's, it explains why I haven't gotten out of bed in four days and my hair still smells like Cheetos. For others, perhaps like the woman I spoke to, they want to be the expert. They want to sound authoritative and more knowledgeable than anyone else. Or maybe they are just uncaring asshats. Who knows.

Because, you see, the My-Grief-Is-Bigger-Than-Your-Grief Competition only has losers. No winners.

Because grief sucks.


All grief.

Whether you lost a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, it doesn't matter. There are so many factors that can impact grief: where you are at in your life, your relationship with who you lost, unresolved issues or feelings, watching them suffer, losing them suddenly, not getting to say goodbye, and so on and so forth. Every loss is so unique that "measuring" the grief is impossible.

Not to mention you can alienate and hurt the people around you, quite badly.

So if you ever find yourself accidentally letting slip a My-Grief-Is-Bigger-Than-Your-Grief, I urge you to take a moment, consider the person in front of you, and put yourself in their shoes. Try to imagine their pain, feel their grief.


You see?

It's awful too.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


This week was "momento night" at the grief group I'm co-facilitating.

The idea is, each of the widow(er)s brings in an item to share with the group from their late spouse. The item can be anything: a piece of clothing, jewellery, a photo, something their spouse made, their favourite book, etc. It then gives the griever an opportunity to share in depth about their husband/wife. Perhaps tell a story, share a memory, or talk about something that has helped them in their journey.

It's always a very emotional night for everyone and can bring up many, many tears.

Part of my job as a co-facilitator is to bring in an item of my own to help get the ball rolling.

I knew this was coming before I ever signed up (because I remember it from my own group), but still I procrastinated picking something out. It's not that I don't want to share about Craig. Rather, I carry so many momentos with me all the time, I knew it would be tough to find one that really captured his essence, the spirit of who he was, and exactly how much he means to me.

Basically a couple hours before I had to go I finally decided I could put it off no more.

I pulled out my "boxes" and began what I thought would be a quick glance through to find something I liked.

The very first box had Craig's license plate, bent and mangled, right on top. Underneath that was the stack of photos from the accident that were in the newspaper and on tv. Under that, card after card, letter after letter, from the funeral. Yes, I kept every single one.

The next box was all the photos from the funeral and the one after that had Craig's journals, diaries, and love letters.

There weren't a ton of boxes, but it sure felt like it.

Just lifing the lid from that very first box, seeing the broken glass and dirt still streaked on everything I pulled from the car, was like a sucker punch to the gut.

I ended up sitting on the floor, crying my eyes out, pouring over each item one at a time. Two hours later I realized I was going to be late and frantically rushed to wipe the snot and mascara off my face, dashing out the door.

It made me realize something very important.

I was telling someone that it upset me because I rarely looked at that stuff anymore. In fact, it's probably been about a year since I pulled out the boxes and went through them like that.


Because I don't want to remember the sad stuff anymore.

I keep Craig's picture (a couple of them actually) in my office. When I sit down to write, there he is, grinning back at me.

I have a photo of him I keep in my wallet where he tragically wrote, "hopefully you won't need this picture of me to remember my face in 20 years" across the back.

I have 2 letters from him (my favourite out of the 100+ I've kept) in my purse. In it he tells me that I am smarter than I think, that I am brave, that I can do anything. I don't need to read them anymore. I know the words off by heart.

On my right hand is my ring - the one I designed that is made from both sets of our wedding bands.

In my car I keep the jade bear talisman he bought for me on our first trip to Radium. I feel safer when I drive just knowing it is hanging from my rearview mirror.

These are the things that make me smile. They make me feel better.

At some point along the way, a shift happened.

I began to remember my husband as my friend, my lover, the guy who could always make me smile. Instead of reliving scenes of the accident, I relived the scenes from our life. Instead of agonizing over his final moments, I laughed about the way he'd dance with me in the kitchen. Instead of pain and suffering, I started to feel joy and happiness that I got to have him, for what little time I did.

It's not that I don't care about the accident. It's that the accident was preceded by one hell of a decade. And that decade is the one that I want to look back on.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the momento I brought was a card he gave me on my birthday. Inside it he wrote:

"I would have hoped that being older in body and mind that you would have blossomed into a mature young woman.
However, I can see you plan on staying young forever.
Please stay young forever, I don't want to be left behind.
At times in our life our own spark goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another.
You are my spark."

Like I said, these are the things worth remembering.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This is MY FAULT

Today I have to break one of my rules.

Normally I refrain from getting swallowed up in religious or political debates in social media, but this one hits too close to home.

Since Friday my Facebook news feed has been awash with shared pictures, quotes, and articles blaming the tragic shooting in Connecticut on gun control laws, a lack of God in schools, and poor parenting. Every time I see one of these I click away and try not to seethe with anger. With frustration. With disgust.

It makes my stomach churn to think of these families watching the news and going online to see these kinds of comments. Why? These comments are not helpful. Not at all. They hurt. Believe me, I know. When my husband was killed, I sat for hours watching people’s comments saying he deserved to die for talking on his cell phone while driving (he wasn’t) or that he was probably speeding (he wasn’t) or that it was all part of God’s plan (it isn’t). Not only was each one of these a painful accusatory jab at the wrong person, but they minimized my grief. The danger in these statements is that they carry a clear, underlying message: If something bad happens to you, it must be your fault. You didn’t pray enough, you weren’t a strong enough Christian, somehow you had it coming. We don’t know all the details and in all likelihood this shooter suffered from a mental illness. Would you tell someone with a broken leg or cancer that they deserved it or that they just didn’t pray hard enough? Of course not.

Do you know what was helpful?

People who said to me, this is tragic. This is horrible. This is not how his life was meant to end. This should never have happened. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. They came by with food, they sat and listened to me cry, they drove me to work.

These are the people who cared.

If you are sitting back, behind your keyboard, lazily reposting someone else’s speech or comments on this tragedy being a result of God being kicked out of our schools or ignored by society, I ask you this: What are you actually doing to help?

Those types of posts can be hurtful, offensive, and cruel. Instead of blaming society, our gun laws, or a lack of faith, maybe you should be contemplating your own role. Because if this is really because God has been kicked out of schools and ignored by society, perhaps the more appropriate message is this:

This is my fault.

MY fault.


Last week I lied to my husband about how much I spent at the store. I was short with my children. I was jealous and bitter. I allowed my competitive nature to take over instead of my loving nature. I gossiped viciously about my sister. I slandered. I embellished a story to make myself look more favourable and someone else worse. I lusted after someone who wasn’t my spouse. I was too lazy to clear my sidewalk after it snowed, not really caring my postman could fall and hurt him/herself. I sped. I cut someone off in traffic. I got angry with the clerk at McDonald’s who got my order wrong. I cheated on a test. I took credit for someone else’s work. I saw starving children on the news and changed the channel. I got angry someone who wasn’t a part of my family was invited for Christmas – they aren’t one of us. I slacked off at work. I knew my mom was having a bad day but instead of calling her, I went out to dinner. I didn’t listen, I didn’t offer support, I didn’t act. I chose anger over kindness. I chose pride over humility. I chose indifference over love. This tragedy is the fault of people like me, doing these things, every day.

I AM society.

MY actions are God’s work in society.

This is MY FAULT.

Instead of sitting back, blaming other people and other things, why not act with love EVERY DAY.

Don’t repost some trite quote on Facebook. Help the families instead. Show them they are loved, that you care, that their tragedy is more important than your religious or political agenda. Send them a letter of love and support. If you live too far away to shovel their walkways or bring over food, give to local mental health organizations to support families dealing with mental illness. Encourage your friends on Facebook to do the same. You can find info on that here:

This time of year is the perfect time to ACT with love, instead of just talking. Did you know you can send care packages filled with cookies, toiletries, and gifts to soldiers overseas? Here’s how in Canada:

How about giving to a local charity or inviting someone over for the holidays who is grieving, single, or alone? Shovel your neighbour’s walkway instead of just yours. Stop speeding. Tip generously. Live with the kindness, the grace, the forgiveness, the generosity, and the love of the God you keep saying others have kicked out of society.

Show the world what it looks like when He is welcomed back in.