Lose a friend, gain a friend and change your life…
If you or your child is the victim of violent crime you will lose a friend. Because you will be disappointed in someone. Someone will let you down. And it will be okay because…
people you never guessed will flood in to help. The day after Graham was stabbed, his friends, our friends and family, etc. filled the waiting area of the ICU wing. The waiting area was so full of people that security made us come up with a “housing” plan.
On the day The Seattle Times article appeared, so many people called, emailed, stopped by (with cookies) or otherwise made contact with us. We were comforted. Their message: “I’m so sorry this is happening to your son, what can I do to help?” And those wonderful people continued to check in, lend an ear and offer help.
A tip for friends of victims: be there. You don’t need to stay – in fact, don’t. Make it simple. Stop by, give a hug, and leave. Send a text or an email. Your presence is the only present needed. By the way, flowers are not allowed in ICU. If you want to bring something – a small bag of nuts, a cheese stick, or a protein bar are appreciated. Also, checking in months after can make someone’s day – that shows true love and caring.
When Graham came home from the hospital, my entire office brought meals. They brought them each evening for a week. One man brought a hot, three course meal to our front door. Another woman and her little girl came by with a meal and a hand drawn card. We were very touched.
Just today the checker at the grocery store told my husband he’d seen The Seattle Weekly article (we’ve shopped there for 30 years) and a person I used to work with (8 years ago) stopped me in the street to say she’d seen the Victim’s Voice Facebook pictures. They are making their way across the country.
Yes, we were disappointed with a couple of people. But, the silver lining in the cloud were the new friends made. One new friend helped co-found Victim’s Voice. She has suffered from violent crime and the aftermath. She will be telling her own story later this year. As we shared our stories and frustrations, we began to see how we could help each other and our non-profit was the result. People have asked how to contribute, speaking engagements are opening up and board members are lining up.
My point: talk to people. Share your story.
Other fundamental changes are going to happen. You will never be the same again. And some of those changes will be very good. Because of The Seattle Times, we are more critical thinkers and readers of news. When I see something on Facebook newsfeed that is alarming (and it’s not The New York Times), I check the source and read the story elsewhere. Every story I question. My empathy meter is up for victims of violence and victims of social media.
What not to say to victims: "It’s gods will." "Everything happens for a reason." "I know how you feel" (unless you have suffered yourself. In that case, tell the person).
Next: dissecting a news story. I will be dissecting the Seattle Times "story" to illustrate how "click motivated" reporters write the news.