When freak accidents happen

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Death is unpredictable because unforeseen accidents occur.

When flight arrangements were made, she didn’t know. When she hugged her two daughters’ good-bye before her business trip, she didn’t know. When she boarded the airplane, she didn’t know. Jennifer Riordan didn’t know the airplane engine would malfunction and hurdle debris into the window next to her seat. She didn’t know she would be sucked into a gapping hole, grabbed by her legs from another passenger, and later die from blunt force trauma.

They didn’t know when they awoke, showered, sipped coffee and started their day. They didn’t know the Florida International University bridge in Miami would collapse. Oswald Gonzalez, Alberto Arias, Rolando Hernandez, Navarro Brown, Alexa Duran and Brandon Brownfield didn’t know they would die that day.

He didn’t know. An active 16-year-old didn’t know his chest would be crushed by a row of seats from his van after he bent over to retrieve tennis gear. Kyle Plush didn’t know he would die that day.

Mothers, fathers, spouses, partners, children, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors and coworkers didn’t know. They didn’t know their loved one would die from a freak accident. And they would slump beside a casket with unbearable grief, buckets of tears and unanswered questions. Why? Why? Why?

Strangers on the outside experience sorrow on the inside, because we mourn for members of our human family. But, we also fear that one of our loved ones might someday befall a freak accident.

What can we take away from knowing about unanticipated accidents?

We can engage in a philosophy of intentional daily living. But, what does that look like? Every morning and every night, we take a few seconds to stop and look into the eyes of our loved ones and say three vital words. “I love YOU.” Teenagers may roll their eyes, but this deliberate action will be remembered down the road.

We can write words of appreciation on Post-it notes and put on the refrigerator for our spouses or partners — instead of chore lists. Hurry, scurry, worry robs even the smallest acts of gratitude.

We can send cards of encouragement to friends and post inspiration quotes on Facebook. And engage in planned or random acts of kindness daily. Giving our time to people shows they matter to us.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things,” proclaims Robert Brault about the value of appreciation.

However, being aware of freak accidents doesn’t mean we isolate in our homes, develop anxiety disorders, or helicopter over our children. Instead we control what we can control: our words, actions, and reactions.

And we develop, work towards, and obtain our personal and professional goals. We still shop for groceries, clean toilets, and mow lawns. But we try to do it with an attitude of gratitude and role model daily appreciation.

Yes, we can peruse Consumer Reports, and educate ourselves about safety issues with modes of transportation, and make certain decisions. Ralph Nader, American political activist, rallied for consumer safety. But freak accidents remain unpredictable.

Yes, we can pray, and I believe in prayer. But, I’ve read the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” by Rabbi Harold Kushner.

Being kind is a form of showing appreciation and gratitude. Visit Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at www.randomactsofkindness.org. Or google for websites about intentional acts of kindness.

“Appreciate what you have, where you are and who you are within this moment.” –Tony Clark


Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.