This week, each night I’ve watched the news and looked at the weather map with its ‘red’ zone of frigidity covering Canada from Manitoba to the East and I’ve shaken my head, both thankful we’ve been spared the bitter cold for now, although I hear it is on the way, and wondering about how people who have not had to deal with these weather extremes, and who do not have mechanisms in place to do so, are able to do so now.
While the weather has captured my immediate attention, the story coming out of Melfort, Saskatchewan about the hearing for the driver of the truck involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus accident has captured my heart. Last April, our country, and the world, was heartbroken as the magnitude of the Humboldt tragedy was revealed. At that time, it felt like Canada knit itself together to support this hockey community and all the families affected.
This week, we have been asked to create a safe container for these families as once again, we bear witness to their suffering and grief. Barely able to listen to the victim impact statements being reported, I am awed by how people who have not had any possible way of preparing for such tragedy, have had to face it. And face it with an audience of millions watching.
I am always proud to be Canadian. It feels wrong, or somehow unearned, to say that I am even more proud to be Canadian, watching how these grieving families have conducted themselves this past week. We, the observers, see these families as a group. They however, are each very individual in their grief. No two families are the same. No two losses are the same. No two feelings are the same. No two coping mechanisms are the same. No two members of any family are the same. No two grief responses are the same. We have seen the range of grief from disbelief, to compassion, to forgiveness to rage.
And yet there has been a sameness about them. They are the same in their courage to come face to face with the driver of the truck. They are the same in recognizing the enormity of the tragedy. They are the same in carrying themselves with dignity and grace, while no doubt at times wishing they could scream their agony so others could get a glimpse of their grief. They are the same in accepting that each of them is different. They are also the same in recognizing the complexity of this case. It would be so, so much easier if any sense could be made of it all. They are the same in their efforts to make sense out of such a senseless event.
It’s no wonder that the men, boys and young woman involved in this crash have had so many wonderful tributes made to them. Clearly, each member of this Humboldt family was inspiring. In watching their families this week, it isn’t hard to figure out why this is so. They were inspiring because they came from families who taught them to be inspiring. This was their ‘being’. Clearly, from a young age, each of these players, the trainer, the coach, the bus driver and the sports reporter was taught to be more than their skill. They were taught to cultivate the deeper, more important parts of themselves. It is my understanding that the coach, Darcy Haugan continued instilling this legacy with the team. He wanted them to become the best versions of themselves, to represent themselves and the community well, and to make decisions about how they would react and behave amid the pressures of the game of hockey. He, and their families understood that by practicing these qualities regularly, in every day life, in ordinary situations, they would build the muscles needed to exhibit the same qualities when the stakes were much higher, the situations not so ordinary and emotions nearer the surface.
No one could have imagined how high the stakes could get.
While I am awed by the dignity of these families, I should not be surprised. They are simply demonstrating what they taught to their children. The are the purest example of being exactly who they were asking their children to become. They have shown up to the trial this week exactly as they seem to have shown up in their lives; as authentic, caring, decent, integrous, respectful, family-oriented Canadians. A tragedy such as this one does not create these qualities; it does reveal them.
This week, as the rest of the country hunkered down to deal with the cold, a warmth was felt on the prairie. I like to think it was simply the residual grace and courage continuing to flow from these grieving families. May the rest of us Canadians, continue to hold them in our prayers and thoughts. We are not out of winter yet.
My inquiry for you this week is ‘What am I cultivating by this small action?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is also the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups.