The Healing Power of a Community During a Crisis

I’ve been in a reflective mood lately.

There’s been too much death and dying all at once in the past few weeks. First, the disappearance of that Malaysian flight, the news that my 83-year-old uncle is dying from kidney failure, the landslide in Oso, WA, and on the same day as that landslide, the death of a man my age who lives nearby, in a skiing accident.

While that landslide was just unspeakably horrible (a close friend of mine had just traveled that road a mere 24 hours earlier) and the impending death of my uncle is very sad, the death of this man actually really hit me hard.

I’ve only met him once or twice and I was in a preschool cooperative with his wife for a short time. She made us a meal when my son was born- and this was eight years ago. And I see her, a friendly presence, from time to time around town. And Seattle is a small town– so many people I know from my neighborhood and other social circles have known him.

All I can think of is:

  • It can happen to any one of us at any time.
  • Life is short. And every day is precious.
  • I can’t imagine what she must be going through, with two young children. I really feel for her, this acquaintance of mine.
  • I don’t know them well at all, but I wonder how I can help. I want to pay it forward with a meal- hers was incredibly sustaining so soon after my delivery.
  • How can I strengthen my own community so that I have people to lean on when and if times get tough?

Ok, at the very least, I can do a meal for her. I looked online, found a website dedicated to his memory, and there were signups for bringing the family a meal. But it was completely full, through June! Luckily there was an email contact on the form, so I sent an email asking if I could bring a meal later, when the support starts to thin out as it will at some point. The response was, yes, that would be great, and that one of the family’s neighbors was a chef and would be making them regular meals on Tuesdays.


And apparently, there were 1000 people or more at this man’s memorial service this past weekend. From what I have heard and seen, the family has an incredible community of people supporting them. Isn’t that what we all need? To have people in our lives who care about us and support us when times are tough and vice versa? Absolutely, yes.

Credit: Detroit Jewish News

Credit: Detroit Jewish News

In the end, you are still alone in your private grief, especially if you have just lost your best friend, partner, lover, and as his wife said, “tour guide through life”. But I think all the love and support from this community will help her get through this grieving period more easily.

I hope I have that rock of support when I need it.


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