Late Friday afternoon, a horrific and devastating crash occurred on a stretch of highway in Canada. It was an accident that would end the lives of 15 people including players, coaches, a radio announcer and a statistician from the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Others are battling for life in critical condition. Families, friends, hockey teams, a community and an entire country and beyond are grieving in the wake of a tragedy that changed lives forever in the blink of an eye.
In truth, I did not know any of the individuals that tragically lost their lives. I do not know any of the people who lost a dad, son, grandson, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, colleague or teammate. I am not even a hockey mom although I know many women who are. In reality, I am far removed and separated by hundreds of miles nor do I have a direct connection to this unimaginable tragedy.
Yet, I find myself grieving with a broken heart. As news of the crash began to spill on to the channels of the major news networks, newspapers and across social media, it became obvious that the reach of this tragedy was spreading deep and wide. As of Sunday, A GoFundMe page for the families and victims had surpassed its 2 million dollar goal. People have expressed shock, grief and heart-break from all over the globe. Regardless of any direct connection or ties to this tragedy, the outpouring of grief and support is real and intrinsically strong.
For the past 48 hours I have struggled to stop thinking about the crash and this senseless loss of life. My heart aches for those that died. I grieve for the people left behind that must now find a way to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives that will never be the same. Emotions well up from deep inside knowing that devastated families must now plan funerals for their loved ones and prepare to do the unthinkable; say goodbye.
Tragedy leaves people struggling to make sense of the grief that often transcends deep into the fabric of our lives. But, there are no easy answers in our desperate search to unveil the deeply buried and elusive burden of why. How could this happen?
Sadly, our questions often go unanswered and there are few words that can ease the immediate confusion and pain.
So why do any of us grieve and feel a deep sadness for people we do not know or in the wake of a tragedy that has no direct tie to our own daily lives?
We grieve because we are human and humans have hearts that are capable of feeling a deep connection to many things in life. We all have a story and whether there is direct impact in the wake of tragedy, we can at times relate. It is often in the face of adversity and the darkest of times that human beings come together showing limitless empathy, resilience and strength.
Grief is personal but it is also universal and whether we like it or not, grief is one of the few things that is prejudice to no one. Loss and grief is something that every single person on this planet will experience. There is no avoiding it and loss in life is a bond we all must share.
There is grief in our hearts because tragedy and loss of life reminds us of just how vulnerable we are. Tragedy serves as a brutal reminder of our immortality and in reality, life does not come with any guarantees. Life can be forever changed in one single second and sadly, those changes in life sometimes come without the chance to say goodbye.
I have lost loved ones without warning and there is no way to prepare for that moment when someone walks up to you and has to tell you that someone you love has tragically died. It is a phone call you hope will never come and a club that no one wants to join.
This weekend’s crash hangs heavily in the air disrupting our false sense of security and planting seeds of fear. We are painfully reminded that no one is immune to death. Whether we like it or not, that includes our own children and anyone we love and hold dear. In all honesty, I feel afraid every time my children get into a car. I have lost loved ones in accidents that left my heart feeling vulnerable and raw. It is, at least in part, in the midst of that raw vulnerability that we grieve for the loss of these victims and their families. We grieve because at some level, we know it could have been our own child, spouse, sibling, teammate or friend.
We are grieving with them from afar because those young men and coaches will not be going home. There will be no more cheering on the rink for those that lost their lives. Families must somehow face an empty chair at the dinner table or a bed that will never be slept in again.
Emptiness will fill every corner of their homes. And, a deafening silence will cruelly replace their loved one’s voice that was heard one day before.
Life will never be the same for those that have personally been affected by the tragedy on Friday. Life has forever changed and the journey to find peace will be a long and difficult road. Still, the days and weeks ahead will roll on because they have to. Slowly the healing of shattered hearts will painstakingly begin.
Personally, I am struggling to find the right words to say or to share any wisdom that is slightly profound. I don’t understand why bad things happen and I cannot tell anyone how to grieve.
In the end, no one can change what happened this weekend. There are however, important life lessons to remember as we try to make sense of this loss. We can mourn and while grieving face the emotions that lay heavy on our hearts. It is something we all need to do. We can hold the families of the the victims and the players fighting for their lives in our prayers. An entire community needs to know we care and they need our support.
We do not always have control over some of the tragic things that happen in our own lives nor can we change the horrible and heartbreaking things that happen to strangers that we have never met and will never know.
But, we can take a stand and with courage join hands with others in faith and unrelenting hope. We can fight like hell to bring change to the world and to live our best lives possible.
Vow to choose your words carefully and to never leave the house or go to bed mad. Take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment you are blessed to live. You do not know when it will be your last.
Choose to be kind. It is a simple thing to do and it will make a difference in the world.
Lastly, we can make a promise to ourselves and to those that we love. We can say I love you more, hug often and make every moment count. In the end, and regardless of what life brings, that is what matters the most.
Sending love and so many prayers to the Humboldt Broncos and to the many people grieving tonight. My heart aches with you and for you all.
In Peace and With Love,