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Tragedy can be overwhelming

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

The horrific accident on Friday, April 6 near Tisdale, Saskatchewan claimed the lives of young talented hockey players, along with their coach and other staff. The driver of their bus was also killed. The accident left the community of Humboldt reeling, as well as a families in other regions. Ten of the players were from Alberta, one player was from Manitoba...and the remaining players were from Saskatchewan. Grieving goes well beyond the boundaries of Humboldt. As shown with the tremendous support – financial and emotional – Canadians from coast to coast are aware of the pain and loss those who are left behind are now suffering.

I spoke with one of the persons involved with our own hockey team and he indicated that every time they load the guys up on a bus for an away game he feels tremendous concern. The games take place throughout the winter months and road conditions can be treacherous. He also has noted that not all bus drivers have the same degree of skill and level of caution. The same holds true of all other drivers on the road.

When there is an accident, and lives are lost there is a sense of shock. The family of those who have died have to make real that which seems so unreal. Parents should not have to arrange the funeral of their young, talented, and very healthy young son...or daughter. While not an actual clinical depression, those grieving go through a process that can appear to be depression. There can be numbing, disbelief, outbursts of anger, restlessness, insomnia, disorganization and despair.

Eventually the sadness will abate, and lives are rebuilt. However, there can be an impact on health, and there are some who do suffer continued depression. In the case of a sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one it is possible to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Hopefully, the families who are now dealing with loss will have continued support from their community. Grieving over such a loss is a natural process and usually lasts up to a year.

A number of years ago my youngest sister was killed in an accident as she was driving home from her teaching position. A man and his girlfriend had spent the day at a tavern drinking. He drove a large pick-up and ran head on into my sister's compact car. My sister and the man's girlfriend were killed instantly...and the fellow ended up in the hospital for a week or so.

She left a husband and two young sons. She had just completed work on her Doctorate in Education and was finishing work on her thesis. I got the news in the wee hours of the morning. It took hours before I could mentally understand what had happened. When I arrived at my sister's home and saw my dad I knew the “life” that had been in him was gone. He had been a healthy, active person...yet he passed away from pancreatic cancer 6 months after my sister's death. My own health was impacted, and my brother developed a serious illness.

I fully understand the shock and disbelief that occurs when life is unexpectedly lost. There was a period where I could barely put one foot in front of the other. I was also very angry. My sister was in her mid-thirties...yet she seemed more like she was in her early twenties. Our own mother had also passed away in her mid-thirties. Leona was just two years old...and I, the big sister took over her care. I nicknamed her Little Miss Sunshine because she always wore a smile. I still miss her.

My heart goes out to the families of the Humboldt players who were lost and those who were injured...they will be in my prayers. I expect there will be much support from all Canadians for a long time to come.

Shirley Hallee’s column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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