I was Sideswiped…by Love!

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the death of my wife Sheri Dawn Voll (Valleau). Mostly it seems like another lifetime ago, however, periodically it seems just like yesterday. There are moments from that horrific day that will linger with me as long as I draw breath, but the raw pain that it once caused has been replaced by reflection and even a smile at the precious gift God gave me, even though it wasn’t for long.

I posted on my Facebook page last year that each December 1st would be “International Sideswipe Day.” This is a day to remember those whom we have lost, share our grief, and encourage one another that there is hope after loss. I was blown away at the responses I received. It can be overwhelming to hear the pain that people go through each day. Some of your stories took my breath away; you have faced so much and you continue to push forward. It’s simply inspirational.

Grief and pain are something that we have to go through. There is no sidestepping it. It can be lonely, but we need not be alone. Friends, family, and acquaintances cannot take away the pain but they can speed the healing. I have learned that encouragement, prayer, and a kind word can change the course of a person’s day…or even life. So, I guess in that way the gift of friendship and encouragement are even more important than being a pain reliever. Pain makes us alive, but comforting one another with love and compassion makes us truly human.

Yesterday I received all sorts of calls, texts, emails and FB messages from friends who wanted to let me know that they remember Sheri and the events of December 1. Their outpouring of love humbles me. And I realize that it is because of this love that I have been able to heal and lead others to a greater sense of hope in their personal nightmare. That’s why I was able to muster the courage to write “Sideswiped: Three Keys to a Fresh Start After Suffering a Broken Heart.” Each week a person or two will contact me out of the blue to tell me the difference it has made to them or a loved one who is going through deep waters.

So whatever you are going through, or however helpless you feel as you walk with someone through his or her “valley of the shadow of death,” please know that there is hope and you are the one that God has chosen to deliver it. Sometimes it’s in the form of a hug, a quick text or a gift of a book that might help them get unstuck.

Whatever you do, do something. You are needed. You are a part of someone’s healing no matter how broken you may feel yourself.