Light in the Darkness

Last week , a 911 call sent emergency personnel to the home of a young family here in Winnipeg. Two young children were found in the bath tub. They could not be revived. The young mother was nowhere to be found. Yesterday, Sunday morning, the lifeless body of the mother was pulled from the river.

It is impossible to fathom the pain and the horror the husband and other family members and friends are going through. It is a nightmare that cannot be imagined; a nightmare that happens to others; a nightmare we watch from the comfort of our living rooms.

As this tragedy has unfolded, I have seen one glimmer of brightness. I have seen the media focus on the mental illness that strikes a very few unfortunate women after the birth of a child. Instead of lurid headlines of horror, they instead provided information on postpartum depression/ psychosis. Yes, there have been the haters who immediately hopped on line to spew angry, judgmental comments, but their voices are being drowned out by voices of compassion, voices that ask “What can be done to prevent this from happening again?”

Brave women have stepped forward saying “There but for the grace of God.” Women who were not afflicted as severely or who were able to get the help they needed in time, are stepping into the limelight in order to help lay to rest the myth that new babies are all about sunshine and light.

The small glimmer of light I see is so many people looking for answers instead of judging. And when I see that, I realize what a profound impact that attitude has on the well-being of a community.

Can you imagine what work environments would be like if, instead of judging and hating the workplace bully, we instead asked “What happened to make him so angry, so mean?” What if, instead of judging the cranky customer, we asked ourselves “What happened today that made her so unhappy?”

We may never know the answers to those questions, but sometimes it’s not about the answer. It’s about deciding to be more compassionate and less judgmental. It’s realizing that we don’t know everything about the unlikable and that maybe, just maybe, if we’d experienced their life, we might also be the unlikable.

There but for the grace of God …

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