Category Archives: Death of Business Colleagues

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Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT: One Year Later

The first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT holds difficult emotions for the families, friends and school staff, as well as its community. Dealing with the pain of loss for the first full year is never easy.

When we approach an anniversary, we relive all the little moments before the tragedy and try to trick ourselves into thinking that person is still with us. On the days leading up to the anniversary, we, at least, get to think “the week before we were baking Christmas cookies” or “the day before we were decorating the tree.”

But once the actual first anniversary occurs, we don’t get to have that luxury any longer and we can’t fool ourselves. We can no longer say, at this time last year we were doing this or that. And that reality bring sorrow.

The first anniversary is never an easy day to live through but sometimes the anticipation is much more stressful than the actual happenings of the day itself.

I’ve known so many families (and I’ve had this experience, too) tell me they made the experiences of the day so much greater in their head than they turned out to be.

They thought they’d be devastated, but somehow it turned out to be a lot lighter than they thought it would be. It became a day of remembering the person, than how they died.

It became a day of thinking of all the fun times they spent together and being grateful for those times instead of allowing themselves to succumb to the events of that day.

So my thoughts are with the families of this small Connecticut town today and do hope that they can look for the happiness they held in the relationship they shared with their loved one and not the way they died.

Yes, it can be hard, but moving toward gratitude for those happy years spent together, will always outweigh a moment in time that can never be changed.

To read my blogs from last year when this tragedy occurred, go here. As a stepmother of an 11 year old who was murdered, I wrote them from the perspective of a grieving mother of a murdered victim.

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Why Murder Never Goes Away

I can’t help but think about all the families affected today by the media reports that the Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

All the families around the world whose lives were irreparably damaged by the commands and actions of this man will once again be thrown into the past revisiting horrific memories of sorrow and loss.

The closest to me, as fellow memories of survivors of homicide groups at the time, were the families of the Syracuse University students who were simply returning a few days before Christmas on Pan Am 103 in December, 1988. These young people had enjoyed a wonderful semester abroad and were coming home for the holiday season through New York’s JFK airport. But they never made it.

It took decades for these 270 victims’ families to get the cooperation of our own government to press for those responsible for the downing of this aircraft and it all led back to Gadhafi. And little justice was ever achieved.

Only months ago, the man supposedly responsible was released from prison because he was terminally ill. After all, we must be compassionate, now shouldn’t we?

As the news of Gadhafi’s death starts to move onto the airwaves, it will only be a few hours until the famous picture of the nose of Pan Am 103 will be up in all forms of media, thus bringing back the sad memories for these families.

I remember specifically one mother whose son was killed on Pan Am 103 and also a student at Syracuse University in upstate New York, telling me how every time she saw that picture of the plane’s nose, it pierced her heart. It brought all the pain and memories back again. It just never seemed to go away.

Well it’s been nearly 23 years since she and the other families both in the United States and those killed on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland have memorialized their loved ones.

Today, all that pain, all those memories will rush back in.

But I’d like to believe that instead, these US families and families all around the world who were affected by the orders of this ruthless killer, will finally feel some sense of justice, relief and satisfaction today, with the death of this vicious man.

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Steve Jobs: “Life is brief, and then you die. You know?”

I think the most admirable lesson Steve Jobs taught us about the way he lived his life was that he LIVED it.

To the full. Overflowing. Nonstop. Always creating. Always dreaming. Always expanding. Completely. He used every drop of it and we grasped all he gave.

Billions around the world honor him today as he leaves this life. But, for me, the true measure of our admiration toward this amazing man is that we did honor him all along his life, at every creation. And there were many.

There is no doubt he is the Edison of our generation. His accomplishments are so vast, I doubt most people know them all.

The Apple II, IMac, Pixar Studio work which brought so much fun to small and big children everywhere (remember ToyStory), ITunes, IPod, IPhone, IPad. All the genius of one man.

I loved the fact that he worked from his gut. He went to the quiet place where all creation comes from and listened to the small voice that he knew was right.

No focus groups, no research, just gut.

In his 2005 Commencement Address at Sanford University, he spoke of his life, his losses, his challenges, his struggles and his views about life and death, especially since, at that time, he had only one year earlier learned he had pancreatic cancer. (Read the transcript here, or watch below.)

His views on life and death are so profound, I wanted to share them with you. (Also read his infamous quotes here.)

Some of his memorable reflections are these:

“When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

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“[Steve’s pancreatic cancer] was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept.

No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share.

No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. right now, the new is you.

But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs not only created magnificent products that changed the way we live our daily lives but he also created an awareness in us that life is so short and should be treasured. Instead of focusing on the trivial parts of life, he inspired us to reach for the best in ourselves each and every day. Because one day, as he reminded us, it will truly be our last.