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When Tragedy Strikes

I experienced a personal tragedy this week that struck me to my core.

One of my oldest friends is Jennifer Murphy. She has four younger siblings: Jessica, Christina, Stephanie, and Vincent. I’ve known her family for twenty years.

Jen and I grew close in sixth grade. We used to call each other during the commercials of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We used to take insanely long walks around our neighborhood and just talk about everything. She threw me a surprise 13th birthday party at her house. We’ve been friends through high school, through college, through our early marriages and now, through motherhood.

Jen and I don’t see each other much anymore, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off. There’s never any awkwardness about how much time has passed. That’s the beauty of old friends.

Yesterday I learned that Jen’s sister Christina, and Christina’s husband Tyler, were murdered in their home in Churchville, PA in a senseless act of violence.

Christina was 28. Tyler was 27.

Life stopped.

I cried. I talked to my mom and my sister on the phone. I called Jen and left her a tearful message of love and support.

And then I sat down at my desk to work. I emailed my team about what had happened, canceled some meetings I didn’t really need to be at, answered some emails.

And then I went back to bed. I was actually amazed at how much pain I was in. I started having lots of thoughts about how I “shouldn’t” be so sad.

But I was.

I called my friend Caroline. She made space for me and for this tragedy in her day. I told her, “I’m thinking of Anna Kunnecke’s wise words – that I’m a cathedral.” Meaning, I’m big enough to hold all my big emotions. I breathed into the pain and sorrow. I let it build and build and build, then crest, and then diminish, at least a little.

I got up and made myself a fruit smoothie.

“Remember Anne Lamott,” Caroline said. “Only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go.”

I did a little work. My brain felt scrambled. I handed off the responsibility of leading a meeting to my boss. When the meeting time came, she had been pulled onto a phone call with a prospective client. I let other team members lead. I participated. And then I waited. There were a few long, awkward stretches of silence when it was time to move on and no one was driving the meeting forward.

It felt like a relief not to work so hard.

In the evening, when my husband and son were home, I had a realization: that the greatest legacy to come out of this tragedy for me could be the imperative to be fully present in each moment of my life, to be intensely grateful for my loved ones, and to appreciate every day.

Because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Normally, I talk about soul-powered marketing on this blog. Today is all about soul. Because these stories, these experiences, are what make us human. And marketing is merely humans connecting with other humans.

When we make time and space for our own humanness, we allow others to do the same. And that is a beautiful thing.

So this week, call up an old friend, or a sibling, or a parent, and tell them that you love them.

And we’ll pick up next Friday with more soul-powered marketing goodness.

May 3, 2018

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2 Comments on “When Tragedy Strikes

  1. Pause, writing, sharing and processing grief are healthy choices and help everyone to be connected as we learn how to support each other in our present lives. Peace with shared sorrow for this tragic loss. I appreciate your nessage.

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