On Friday, April 6, 2018, a parent’s worst nightmare became a tragic reality after a bus crash involving Saskatchewan’s Humboldt Bronco’s hockey team claimed the lives of now 16 people. An entire nation mourns and shares in the grief along with family, friends, teammates and the community of Humboldt.
In my reflection on this great loss, it continues to come to my attention that death is often a topic we shy away from discussing despite it being a fact of life, until of course, death becomes a reality to us personally. While I understand it can be difficult to talk about, I feel it is important in this moment of loss, to openly discuss our individual feelings, reactions and fears. In doing so, we help provide support and aid in the healing process. As there is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor are there any timelines or rules on how to provide support, many of us do not even know where to begin and that is where I would like to offer some thoughts for your consideration.
Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the grieving person. The process is intensely personal and private time can be very important. Grief never really stops; it is something you carry with you in different ways every day of your life. You as a friend or loved one have a supporting role in providing comfort to the one in need, and as such, follow his or her lead. When someone close to you is grieving, it is important to stay present and state the truth. Do not try to fix the unfixable. Be willing to witness unbearable pain. Anticipate, don’t ask. Do not say, “call me if you need me” because your friend will not call. Not because they don’t need you, but because identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and making a phone call is beyond their energy level. Thus, help with normal life requirements.
Most importantly, show your love by your willingness to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in their life. Be willing to have no answers. Be willing to listen. Be patient. Show your love, as love is what lasts.
In the light of the Humboldt tragedy, in keeping with the words of Tim McGraw, “tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity to think about what you would do with it.” Living one day as if it could be your last is the ultimate tribute to the young souls lost in this tragedy, as well as the lives that are lost every day through tragedy, illness, or this gift we call life.
Dr. Diana Garcia
Dr. Diana Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has provided psychological and counseling services in Ontario, and the states of Pennsylvania, and Florida