Fourteen years ago today, everything changed, and my personal world would never be the same again. As our immediate and extended families were being overwhelmed by emotions with the loss of Darrel, word of his passing slowly made its way outside the walls of our Home. Friends called friends, who in turn called other friends. Back in 2007, Social Media and the way most people use the Internet were in their infancy, so even though Facebook may have existed, it certainly wasn't the inter-connected information network that it has become today. At times, I wish that I had had access to all the resources the Internet can provide back during Darrel's treatments...but these weren't readily available to me back then. I am now part of many Support Groups on Facebook, as they have assisted me in getting through some issues I have faced, and I'd like to think my insights have helped others along the way too. Talking with other parents who have travelled down the same unpleasant road as you can provide some solace, as well as guidance to possibilities you had not considered. That being said, there is an Ugly Side to Social Media, which seems to be growing stronger and more prevalent as of late. People who know basically nothing about a given situation hide behind their computer keyboards to weigh in with their unsolicited opinions and advice, as though they are experts on the matter at hand. And for this reason, I'm quite glad that Social Media was not the intrusive behemoth it is today.
This has been especially true lately here in Fergus, after an incident in the very Apartment Building that I live in. Without going into all the details, I'll just say that there was a disturbance with a young man contending with varying levels of mental illness that resulted in a stabbing, a Police shooting, and the death of the young man in question. In a world where Social Media is everywhere, Posts about what people "believed" had happened were on Newsfeeds around the town, country, and even world before this individual's family were aware of anything at all. This is not the way to find out about something befalling your Loved Ones. Their personal tragedy was made even worse by the Comments and Opinions by people, with absolutely no first-hand knowledge of the altercation (or those physically involved in it) on these Social Media Pages. I was at Work the day everything unfolded, but I have since talked to many of those that WERE here, and even now, I don't have a perfectly clear understanding, yet there are those claiming they have all the data they need to make an "informed opinion". There are those that question how the Police handled the confrontation, but most are extremely harsh on the family of the young man...claiming they could and should have done more, without having a clue as to what steps they had taken, and the struggles they had been dealing with before these 'Know-It-Alls' had ever heard of the young man's name! Talk about kicking someone when they are already down!
As I Grieving Parent, I can certainly sympathize with what an emotional upheaval they are going through, and will probably continue to go through for the rest of their lives. Of course, the way Darrel was taken from us is drastically different from how they lost their son, yet the end result is a young life was lost far too soon, and the questions of "Why" and "What If" will always be with them every waking moment, and linger in their subconscious minds while they sleep. I know we did everything we could for Darrel, but that doesn't stop me from believing that there could have been something...seemingly big or insignificantly small, that if we had proceeded differently, we could have saved him. This has been a part of my daily existence for the last 14 years. Fortunately, my internal struggle with this are not constantly being piled onto like this poor man's family is enduring. Only they know what steps they took, when they took them, and why they took them. They definitely don't need some strangers questioning and second-guessing their decisions, and being accused of not caring enough to act by those who seem to feel they know better...after the fact.
I am by no means against Social Media, as I would be the first to admit I spend far too much time on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok every day, but I do wish there would be some boundaries that Commenters wouldn't cross. In some of my Blogs, I do probably open-up, and share more than I should, but there are ways they can respond both honestly and respectfully at the same time. People are entitled to holding different opinions, but preaching about them with some kind of false and absolute authority is totally unacceptable. Perhaps, during this COVID era, much of society has forgotten how to interact with others in a civilized and decent manner, if that ever really existed in the first place. Whether the debate is on Politics, Religion, or what to have for dinner, we can agree to disagree without degrading those who have another perspective on an issue.
In the greater scheme of things, there is usually more that unites us than divides us. You would think that supporting childhood cancer research would be one such cause, but many would rather turn their heads, and hope it goes away on its own. This is both foolish and counter-productive, but also one of the reasons we hold Childhood Cancer Awareness Month every September, along with International Neuroblastoma Awareness Week every June. We all have viewpoints that we support, and these are definitely two close to my heart.
Thank You for remembering Darrel today.
Love and Miss You Little Man