Debunking the Stereotypes
(Part 16: In the Open blog series)
by Stephanie Pericich
I wanted to end the year on a happy note with a lighthearted and witty post. But this year, that just doesn’t ring true. At the forefront of my mind is the grief that far too many families share during the holidays after losing their loved ones, including losses due to overdose, suicide, drunk driving, or gun violence.
If your family has not been directly affected by one of these tragedies, you are truly blessed. In the (highly unlikely) event that you do not know anyone who has grieved as a result of one of these tragedies, then you are doubly blessed. (On a personal note, I have friends and acquaintances whose families have been torn apart by overdose, suicide, and gun violence.) At the very least, we are all aware of the devastation caused by these tragedies, just by turning on the news or opening a newspaper. And yet, the stereotypes persist:
Stereotype: “These things don’t happen in my neighborhood.”
Reality: These things can happen anywhere.
Stereotype: “These things only happen to dysfunctional families.”
Reality: These things can happen to any family.
Stereotype: “These things are beyond my control; I’m only one person.”
Reality: We can all help to prevent these occurrences, in large or small ways. Note that the response to the third stereotype focuses on what we can do to help prevent tragedies from occurring. Having tough conversations with our kids, learning as much as possible about these issues, and getting involved in local health and safety coalitions can help to reduce the number of families who must face grief during the holidays – or any other time of year.
Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.