Lessons From the Grave (Part 2)

As I come to you again with more Life Wisdom lessons which either sprang forth from losing Tommy or were reinforced in the tragedy, I still find unbelief in the words as I type. Not in the lessons, for they are timeless and what got us through the pain, but in the reality f it all. He’s really gone. It’s so hard to imagine. He was one everyone referred to as one that loved life! But even more than the fact that he is indeed gone is the disbelief that he chose to take his own life. I told a colleague over the weekend about Tom’s suicide. He sat in silence for a bit and then replied, “You know Donna, my brother lost his battle with cancer on Dec. 26th. He was 47 years old. He fought so hard to live. It’s just so hard to imagine that someone would do that on purpose.” I reminded him that John and I understood that all too well. My husband has warred for his own life too. Everyday he remembers what a great day it is t be alive. He said that to Tommy many times. He had a choice whether to believe it or not. As do you. I realize you may be going through your own anguish right now. I still ask you to stop and feel the sunshine on your face, listen to the laughter of a small child, look a star-filled sky and smell the flowers, literally. Never will all of these things will be taken away by your trauma. Life is indeed short, fully experience it, don’t let woes and worries and entitlement issues (I ‘deserve’ more) rob you of realizing how truly blessed you

Photo Credit, Kevin Walsh.

Photo Credit, Kevin Walsh.

are. On to the next several Life Wisdom lessons.


What John and I encountered in Ca. is hard to put into words. Nearly 100% of the crowd we’re associated with out there is a very materialistic crowd. Now please don’t misread that. I believe in success. I love experiencing the experiences money can buy. I simply love my God, my family, and life in general much, much more. Our associations out there are with some people whose priorities are, well… to put it simply… out of whack! The search for happiness brings many of them to buy a rare import car, build another $2,000,000.00 house, enroll their kids in a more exclusive private school, make more and more and more money. Note everything I wrote there was about money. Plus there was so much… well… anger, judgment and even hatred. There really wasn’t anyone we could just talk to… about the things that really matter, about love and forgiveness. Everyone was so caught up in, “How much money did Tom leave? Who did he leave it to? Will ‘she’ get any? She’d better not! Someone should shoot her! What was his house worth? How much money was he making a year? ‘She’ did this to him! Why aren’t his kids crying enough? SHE should be crying more! Who saw him last? I’ll bet that pastor he talked to said something to cause him to want to kill himself.” OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!

By the second day we came to grips with why we’ve always kept our trips out there short and why we always so looked forward to coming home. We like being around the success, as it pushes us to know there is more possible and it helps us dream-build, but there are no ‘salt-of-the-earth’ relationships for us out there so we keep the visits short. Back here we have people in our lives that don’t talk about money all the time. Sure they’re working on their successes, but they talk about relationships, and learning about or growing in God, and they do and appreciate genuinely simple things. A new friend and I were sitting at a networking event recently. It was all about higher-level success and making more money. Yet, at 8:55 he stated, “I have a date to meet my daughter via phone as she and I watch our favorite TV program together.” Even across the miles his priorities are not out of balance.

Again, money isn’t evil, loving it will just mess up your world. And salt of the earth people are rare and precious gifts on this earth. They truly care about the people in their lives. They care about the people— not what the people can do for them. Make sure you have one or two in your life so you can talk about the things that really matter. And work hard to be sure you are one. How much of your time is spent thinking about money or what you ‘should’ have by now and how much is spent on thinking about what a great life it is we live? Hmmmm, a good balance checking question for your own life, eh?

6. DON’T BLAMECAST In the case of suicide it’s common for people to ask, “Why,” and then to begin to try to figure it out for themselves. This was no exception. Everyone wanted to blame someone or something. It wasn’t very often that people said, “Tommy did this.” It was more often about who was at fault, who caused it, or what incidents lead him to it. Guys, again I say. Where you are in your life, the stress load you believe you carry, the life you live… it’s all your responsibility. We can be bitter from the things we go through or we can be better. We can learn from them or keep reliving them because we haven’t learned from them. It will be one way or the other. No one is responsible for where you are in your life except you— no one. Not your spouse or ex-spouse, not your employer or employee, not your parents or siblings, not your education, income or background. Tom’s wife could have been blamed (and was by many) if the truth wasn’t really looked at. No one was to blame— expect for Tom himself.

7. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND That’s what we did with each person. We sought to understand where they were at and that what they were feeling was their own personal reaction to this tragedy… even Lisa. I embraced this term about 7 or 9 years ago when a professional P.R. person I was working with took two days to interview me and see what my strengths were. She told me that it was about more than just being a great communicator (an awesome compliment in and of itself); she said you’re telling me you ‘seek to understand’. Since then I’ve realized that doing this is vital to being happy, having real peace, knowing success, and building honest, caring relationships because it not only allows you to feel what someone else is feeling, it keeps you from your own selfish agenda or from reading into what someone is saying.

At this pint I’ll reveal that in order to share with you all the Life Wisdom we picked up in this catastrophe, my articles may run 5 weeks rather than 4. Please know my intention is not to ‘bring anyone down’ or cause you to feel sorry for what John and I have dealt with, not at all. My observation is simply that we go through the things we go through in this life so others can have an easier way of it. My prayer is that by teaching you (or perhaps re-teaching you) what we’ve gleaned here, your life will indeed, be easier. I’d love to hear from you should you want to share. Be blessed. Be happy, healthy and hope-filled… for this is success!!! Donna

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