Sunday, February 22, 2015

We need to talk...

I've spent the better part of the last several weeks writing.  Blog posts, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts on multiple sites and pages I manage.  I've also spent a good deal of time reading and commenting on the posts of others.  This post and it's subject matter have been swimming in my head for several weeks.

The crux of it is, we need to talk.  There needs to be a conversation that not only starts, but continues. It's already started, but the focus is not where it needs to be.  Perhaps I can help shift to focus to where it should be.  Where it needs to be.

The Conversation
Most of the conversation the past few weeks has revolved around two things.  Child Safety and kids dying.  Two things I am clearly passionate about, and for me, have been part of my conversations for the past ten years.  It wasn't my choice to have these passions.  It was born of circumstance. Circumstances that are now part of the fabric of who I am, what I do, and why I write.

Oddly, it seems many people don't understand how these two things go together.  Or, perhaps more accurately, they do understand, but they don't want to think about it.  They don't want it thrown in their face. Especially at a time when they are having a good time, gathered with friends and family, and expecting to be entertained by both by the people around them and what they are watching on TV.

Yes, I'm referring to the Superbowl and the highly controversial Nationwide ad for Make Safe Happen.  I've written about it before and you can refer to that post for my feelings on the ad itself.

Having read many comments on many social media, news, and blog sites, I am saddened.  Not just because so many people did not *get* the message, but the actual reason they did not get the message or outright refused to get the message, even when it was explained to them.  DEATH SCARES THE S*IT OUT OF PEOPLE.  Especially when it's about kids.

Death:  Don't Wanna Even...
Am I wrong?  Does the thought of a loved one dying, especially suddenly and unexpectedly, scare the pants off you?  You don't want to think about it do you?  You certainly don't want to think about what it would be like to get that phone call, that visit to your door from an officer, or the doctor and the social worker at the door of your loved one's hospital room.  So many people refuse to create wills, health care proxies or power of attorney documents because they just don't want to think about death. Or think they can put it off until "later" and then, when death comes, later turns out to be tomorrow...

You fear your spouse having a heart attack or being in a fatal car accident.  You know your loved one with cancer is fighting for their life but you don't want to consider they might not win, even if they have. You absolutely don't want to ever have to go to a child's wake or funeral because it's just too hard to even think about, let alone have it be for YOUR CHILD.

So what do you do instead?  You get pissed off when someone else confronts you with it.  Especially if they confront you with it out of nowhere, when you were not expecting it.  Even worse, if it's a time when you are gathered with friends and family in celebration.

Guess what.  That's the point.  That's what it's like for thousands of people every single day.  Their perfectly happy lives are shattered when a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly dies.  Death, like that ad, doesn't come when you are "ready" for it. It does not always come with a warning.  It comes when it damn well pleases.  Sometimes you can prepare for it, sometimes you cannot. Sometimes there are things you can do to prevent it, sometimes there are not. There is no good time for a loved one to die. None.

There was no better time to air that Nationwide ad.  Why?  A huge audience, full of parents.  Who is their target audience?  Parents.  What was their goal?  Education and yes, maybe even shock value. They wanted to get your attention, and they did.  The message, preventable accidents are the # 1 cause of death to children and a kid can die just this fast, and when they do, this is how it feels.  Don't like it?  MAKE SAFE HAPPEN.  It was that simple.

Misplaced Emotions or No Idea What to do with Them?
Of course people got pissed off.  How dare Nationwide make me confront a subject I'm not comfortable with?  How dare they do it when *I* am having a good time?  How dare they not warn me they were going to "kill" my Superbowl buzz by killing a kid?  They (you?) didn't want their happy family and friends feel good party "ruined."  I get it.

Neither did I.  On December 18th, 2004 I was supposed to be wrapping Christmas gifts and making cookies and crafts with my kids.  Instead, I woke up to find my daughter crushed beneath her dresser. I spent half the day at hospitals.  I came home with a box of her hand and foot prints and a lock of her hair. And overwhelming guilt. She went to the morgue. I didn't want Christmas ruined in 2004 (and for the rest of my life) when instead, I had to bury my daughter who died from a preventable tip-over accident 3 days before Christmas.  I COULD HAVE PREVENTED HER DEATH!

Your Superbowl party might have been brought down by a commercial.  My entire life came crashing down around me when my daughter died from a preventable accident.  One I could have prevented, had I known of the danger.  Had I believed the danger.  Had I known the statistics.  If only... Their goal was to educate you so you don't ever have to know what it's like to be me. Get it?  That ad, might have saved my daughter's life if I'd seen it ten years ago.

Despite my pain, despite the trigger, I loved the ad.  Why?  IT CAN SAVE LIVES!  It can prevent you from ever having to feel the pain I do.  The pain millions of parents feel every year.  The pain of losing a child to something you could have prevented. I already live with the pain of losing a child. An ad is not going to change that. If only it were that easy...

So I'm sorry your SuperBowl viewing experience was ruined for a few minutes.  Really.  But guess what?  You then went back to your eating, drinking, laughing, and regularly scheduled life.  My "regular" life is nothing like it was supposed to be.  I'm sorry, but get over it.

Must Know Info: Grief is a Journey and it Lasts a Lifetime
You know, it's also interesting to me how many bereaved parents were outraged.  They slammed Nationwide for being insensitive to bereaved parents.  That bereaved parents were triggered by the commercial and it should not have been shown during the Superbowl.  That showing an ad that depicted a child dying was in poor taste. They were angry they were watching with the bereaved siblings of the child that died, and they siblings may have also been upset by the trigger.  Or fellow bereaved family members who took offense to their escapist Superbowl viewing being hijacked by a commercial that reminded them of their loss.

Look, I get it. I am a bereaved parent.  I know the spot was a trigger.  I know it blindsided people whether they had ever lost a child or not.  Grief is forever.  Triggers happen.  They suck.  I hate them as much as the next person.  I knew what was coming and I still cried when it aired. It was powerful and compelling. Nationwide did not deliberately try to upset bereaved parents.  Parents who did not lose a child to a preventable accident may have also missed the point of the ad, because of their own grief.  That's understandable. Would there have been a "good" or "better" time to air that ad?  If it triggered you then, it would have triggered you whenever you happened to see it.  Perhaps you'd have been less likely to see it if it were not aired during the Superbowl.

Many of us prefer to be alone in our grief, or when triggered unexpectedly, but what about the benefit of having the support of others in our grief?  What about taking advantage of having friends and family around to support each other, have a conversation, and help us work through our grief? Especially when something like this happens?  That was the gift inside of this commercial for families who are bereaved for any reason, but especially the loss of a child.  The opportunity to start or continue the conversation about death and grief. Of course if your loss was recent, this is often harder to do and I am sensitive to that.  Really, I am.

Even if you had not ever lost a child, if you didn't like the ad during the Superbowl, you would not have liked it any better during your favorite reality, sitcom, or drama show, either.

The Truth
Let's be real and honest here. Your objection to the ad was not *really* that it aired during the Superbowl. It was that it involved the death of a child and it made you uncomfortable.  That discomfort was likely amplified by the fact you were probably in a social environment, and with other people who were equally uncomfortable with a serious subject like the death of a child.  You probably did not have much experience discussing death and/or are uncomfortable with it, or even if you did, you might have felt peer pressure to go along with the crowd and their reaction.  Chances are you stuffed whatever emotion the ad dredged up in you, or, impulsively blamed Nationwide for YOUR discomfort with the death of a child (and likely completely missing the point of the ad), and went back to the party and the game.

I was watching with my two sons, who are obviously bereaved siblings.  We talked about it right after it aired.  They were not upset by it.  They *got* it.  Once they understood the reason the ad was made that way, and what it was really about, they were able to see the benefit.  They were proud their sister is helping to save lives through Meghan's Hope and my involvement with the Nationwide Make Safe Happen campaign.

Why were my kids not upset?  Probably largely because we *do* talk about death in this house.  We talk about how Meggie died, why she died, and what we can do to prevent it from happening to others. I don't shelter them from death, I never have and I never will.  Even when they were 3 and 6 the day she died, they were involved in all of it in an age-appropriate way. We are an open, honest, real family. We talk about triggers and that it can be upsetting when things remind us of her and the way she died. We talked about how others might not feel the same way we do and why.  I want my kids to understand and be comfortable talking about death.

While talking about triggers, what about the 911 ad?  How do you think victims of domestic violence felt about that ad?  Don't you think it was a trigger for them?  What about people who lost children to cancers or other illness and their reaction to the St. Jude commercial?  What about alcoholics and people who lost loved ones to drunk driving and all the beer commercials?  Triggers can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime and for any reason. Yes, for those who have lost a loved one and especially a child they may be more intense, but there are other kinds of losses that cause just as strong of a grief reaction.

To a point, we can only relate to what we know and what we believe to be true.  When it comes to grief, everyone does it differently.  Everyone brings to any discussion their personal, cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs along with their personal life experience.

The Power of Choice 
Yet we always have a choice.  We can choose to be pissed off and self-absorbed about our personal feelings about anything, in this case the Nationwide ad, and the fact they used a child that died from a preventable accident to educate parents that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children. That their kids could be at risk.  Really. Not someone else's kids. THEIR kids.

Nationwide made it real. Reality, when it involves death, makes most of us uncomfortable.

Instead of getting the message.  Instead of going to the makesafehappen website or checking out the app to see what it was all about, people lashed out against Nationwide for "killing a kid during the Superbowl."  They chose to place blame on Nationwide for how it made them feel.  Nationwide did not "make" you feel or do anything.  That's all you.  They created an emotional, compelling, PSA. How you chose to react to it was all you. Really, we need to start owning our feelings, understanding them, and stop blaming others, no matter what it is we feel. The only person responsible for how you feel is you.

Let me say that again.  The only person responsible for how you feel is you.

I propose it was much less about how people felt about the commercial itself and a whole lot more about how death-averse we are as a society.  People missed both messages embedded in that commercial.  In doing so, they missed both an opportunity to learn more about preventable accidents and making kids safer and they missed the opportunity to have a real, honest, and important conversation about death, dying, and grief.

The Conversation Begging to be Had
Here is the thing.  Death is part of life.  We are all going to die.  We all know that, but no one seems to want to actually acknowledge it until they have no choice.  Yes, we would love to believe that we will all live long, happy, healthy and full lives and die of old age when we are damn good and ready to.

Except life doesn't always work that way.

People die.  Some after living long, fulfilling, wonderful lives. Some before they are born.  Some die of horrible diseases they did not ask for or deserve. Some die in car accidents or plane crashes that were no fault of their own.  Some will have a heart attack or stroke with no risk factors or warning signs.  Some die trying to save the lives of others like the members of our armed forces or first responders.  Some are horribly murdered.  Some commit suicide.  Some die in an accident that may have been preventable.  Sometimes the victims of these accidents are kids.

There is never a good time to lose someone we love.  When kids die, it hits us especially hard.  Even if we don't know them. Why?  Kids are not supposed to die. Certainly not before their parents.  Of course not everything that takes the life of a child can be prevented.  But many accidents can be prevented. Why would you not want to do everything you can to protect children so they have every opportunity to live long, happy, and healthy lives?

Nationwide started a conversation.  They want to educate people that accidents are the #1 cause of death to children.  They want to teach parents and those who care for children what the dangers are and how to make their homes and their children safer.  It's that simple.  It's that important.  They provided a wonderful resource and information in the Make Safe Happen website and app.  They want to save the lives of children.

I want to take it one step further.  Let's also let it be a catalyst for talking about death, dying, and grief.  Let's learn how to support others who have lost someone they love.  Let's learn how to support someone who is dying and those who love them.  Let's talk to our families about what would be important to us when we are facing the end of life or after we die.  I've tried to start this conversation, at least with regard to understanding and supporting bereaved parents, with my book Out of the Darkness.  

What you can do
I ask of you two things.

First, If you've not yet done so, please visit the Make Safe Happen Website and download the app or, if you don't have young children in your life, share it with someone who does.

Second, make a date on your calendar to talk to your spouse, significant other, children, family members and/or friends about what would be important to you if you were dying.  What you'd want after you die for services.  Create a health care proxy, power of attorney, and will if you've not done so already.  Don't wait for a health crisis, or for when you get older, or allow it to be put off over and over again.  Do it now.  It will make everything so much easier when death does come knocking for everyone involved.

Be the change.

Thank you.

Meghan’s Hope and Nationwide are partners in the Make Safe Happen campaign. While all opinions expressed here are my own, I have received compensation from Nationwide for promotion of their Make Safe Happen campaign materially or financially.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lost and confuzzled

My get up and go has definitely gone.  Where, I do not know.  I'd kinda like it back...

I feel... lost.  I can't seem to find my motivation.  I have a gazillion things to do and actually, in theory, have time to do many of them, yet I can't seem to execute.  At least not in a manner that shows any true progress on the to do list.

It's rare that I have this problem.  Usually, I am crazy busy.  A multi-tasking queen.  I hardly have time to think, let alone sleep, before I move on to the next things. Yes. Plural.  Things.  I truly wonder what it's like to focus on just one thing start to finish.  I bet it's nice.

Speaking of sleep, that is one thing I've actually been doing a lot of.  Normally, if I'm lucky, I average about 5-6 hours of sleep a night.  The past few weeks it's been more like 7-9 with an occasional double digit in there!  Even when I wake, I laze around in bed, either trying to go back to sleep or pondering what I should be doing instead of lying in bed.  Sometimes I doze off.  Most of the time, I end up frustrated that I wasted all that time lying there instead of getting up and being productive.  I'm honestly not sure sleeping longer has been a good thing for me.

As I tend to be introspective about such things, here is my analysis:  The working diagnosis? Seasonal/situational frustration, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up-itis, and winter. :-)

The questions?  What to do about it and how?

The problems and challenges are:

1) I don't have a consistent income at the moment.  I am working per diem, and although I'd like to have more hours and more clients, my current job is not able to provide them for a myriad of reasons beyond my control.  I have been fortunate to be able to generate income from other sources, but the time has come that I need to find another job that provides both the flexibility in scheduling I need and a more consistent income.  This is not as easy as it sounds.

2) When I look back over the past few months, I have been fortunate, that because of #1 above, I have been able to devote much needed time and energy to other projects.  The jobs that are more of my passion, but that are done because they are important to me, not because they generate income because, for the most part, they don't, especially when you subtract what I spend to maintain them. This includes being able to devote more attention to Meghan's Hope through partnerships with Nationwide and the CPSC, re-designing the website, and the ability to be more active with social media and blog posts.

I wonder if, given the whirlwind of opportunities that came together right around Meg's 10th Angelversary, and the fact my book was published that same week, that I'm finally feeling the depression I typically feel in December.  Hmmmmm.

3)  So many ideas, too many ideas.  Oh, squirrel!  I have also been able to work on and re-design the websites for my other business ventures, neither of which I've nurtured much the past few years because of the book, work, and family commitments.  I must say, they look much better!  There is still work to be done, but I'm happy with the new look.  I've also finally cleaned and mostly organized my "teaching closet", quite a project that was on the list for years. As for the rest, I start one thing and then think of something else.  My lists have lists!  Precious little ever gets crossed off as complete.  Partially because I keep finding new things to do.

4) Since I have the time, I've been taking online classes for a certificate in Thanatology (the study of death, dying, and grief).  This is a subject that has always interested me, and one I feel called to learn more about in the hopes I can help others as they cope with their own death or that of a loved one.  It's been a long time since I went to school!  Unfortunately, the challenge is not only in finding the time to do the reading and the homework, but of course, there is a cost to take the classes.  Until I am able to resume a more steady income, this will end up on the back burner after this current class is finished in a month.  That said, I'm really enjoying the information and the challenges of "school."

5) While soccer is a year round thing, spring soccer is around the corner and the schedules for my boys ramps up this week.  There are conflicts abound and soccer 4/5 weeknights for one or both of them and practices and/or games every weekend, to the point our weekends are completely filled with soccer in some way, shape, or form until July.  There are, of course, tournaments thrown in there, too.  Usually on holiday weekends, because, who needs a long weekend anyway?  This is a stress I am used to and try to do without too much complaining, but it is a stress.  Managing dinner, homework, laundry, and all that goes with managing a household is a challenge and a half every spring and fall. It's near to impossible to see family and friends.  We miss many social events.  Just looking at the calendar gives me chest pain and zaps my energy.

6)  Because soccer is all-consuming, it means my husband and I will not be able to continue our ballroom dancing to the level we would like to.  In fact, I'm not sure we are going to be able to get lessons in at all for the next several months.  This is the one thing we do for us and together and it makes me sad that we are not going to be able to continue.  There is also the financial piece, because it's also expensive (in money and in time) to take the lessons, practice to actually get better and progress, and even more so to enter showcases and competitions, neither of which we are likely to do for the rest of the year.  Mostly, it makes me sad that the one thing we do for us, together, is what has to give.  We have precious little time together, since even with soccer, we each have to take one somewhere.  The lack of couple and family time adds stress.  Parenting is demanding and I want to support my boys to be their best selves, but they damn well better appreciate what I've given up to drive them and their smelly cleats all over creation!  I must admit, I wonder what it would be like to have normal family dinners together every night, hell, what it's even like to BE home every night, and to have weekends free to do family stuff, house stuff, RELAX, because what the hell is that like?!

7)  THE WEATHER!  This has been the longest, damn near snowiest, and coldest winter ever. Seriously, it really has been.  I don't like winter.  I don't mind the snow if I don't have to drive when it's a mess, but I hate being cold.  Absolutely hate it.  Even worse?  Because of this snowstorm every few days pattern, and when it's not snowing it's barely 10 degrees with a wind chill below zero, it has not been safe for me to run outside.  I'm training for a half marathon and instead of running 3x/week I'm lucky if I run 2, in less than ideal conditions, in yak tracks. Long runs are near to impossible of more than 5-6 miles because the roads are just not safe to run on, too much snow and ice and poor visibility due to the height of the snowbanks on corners.  I don't have access to a treadmill nor do I have time to drive to where I could use one.  I like to run outside.  I need to run outside.  My feet need to hit the ground, I need to breathe fresh air, I need the sun on my face, I need the quiet, the time to clear my mind, the endorphins!  I'm not getting it and I'm feeling it.  :-(  Given the weather pattern, it's unlikely to improve for many more weeks.  Damn groundhog...

8) Indecisiveness.  This is perhaps the biggest problem of all.  I've long said I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  While all of my dreams are important to me, it's obvious I cannot do them all. I've given up the two I began with, oddly enough.  I'm not longer teaching childbirth classes or being a birth doula.  Oddly, I don't miss that.  I guess that part of my life is over.  That life mission, accomplished.

The problem now is I have 4 websites and associated social media accounts I maintain, each of which, could, in theory, stand alone as ONE full time job and business.  Meghan's Hope is one of them, the one I devote the most time to, and the one that costs me money to maintain.  Another one is geared toward my Reiki practice and teaching of metaphysically oriented subjects.  One is devoted to my book and grief support, and I'd love to grow that.  The last is devoted to home and life safety and is sort of a sister site to Meghan's Hope.  I teach a myriad of subjects in a variety of settings that incorporate all of these business ideas.  I'd love to do more of that.  I'd love to be presenting and doing more public speaking.  I wish I could get it all on one business card!

Of course what have I not done?  A press release for the book.  Why?  I'd say no time, but really, I've not been compelled to yet.  Honestly, the weather would have mucked it up anyway if I planned a book launch or party.  The time is coming, but it's not yet.  I'm not sure why.  I'm working on it, though.

9) Frustration and overwhelm.  Given the 8 things above, you can probably see why I'm stuck, lost, and confuzzled.  One one hand, I know what I want to do.  The problem is that is too much!  I know I need to focus on one or two things and devote the time and energy to grow them that I need to.  I've been trying, but the financial rewards are not yet recognized and I'm not sure how much more time I can take before I need to table them and get a "real" job again.  The Universe has been kind in bringing abundance into my life in other, somewhat unexpected ways and for that I am grateful.

10)  Time needed to devote to college planning for my oldest, who is a junior in high school.  Trying to plan and schedule college visits between soccer commitments and ID camps/clinics and a summer job for him is no easy feat.  He also needs and will need a lot of guidance and gentle nagging to do what he needs to do to be prepared to apply come the fall.

11) The realization that I can't do it all, certainly not well.  I also cannot save the world, or even a portion of it.  I'm not even sure I can get my own ducks in a row.

The solutions?

1) SPRING!  Seriously, warmer weather and the ability to get back into my running routine will likely help tremendously.

2) Eat better.  I eat horribly.  I always have.  When I am stressed and or in a funk like I am now, I don't even have an appetite or I turn to quick, easy, foods that are nutrient poor and sweet.

3) Figure out what I want to be when I grow up and stay focused on it.

4) Enjoy the time I have with my boys.  They are growing so fast...  I guess I can dance in a few years instead.  ;-)

5)  A good cry.  Tears cleanse the soul. My soul is frustrated and tired.  It needs some cleansing, some clarity.

6)  Did I mention spring?

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Nationwide SuperBowl Ad was a Wake-up Call. Are you Going to Answer it?

I’m sitting on the couch right now, snuggled up with my cat and my son.  I’m watching the snow fall outside.  Blanketing the ground in peaceful, pure, white snow.  You know what I’m thinking?  I’m wishing his twin sister was sitting here with us.  But she’s not.  You know why?  Because she died from a preventable accident ten years ago, when she was three.  I buried her three days before Christmas because I didn't know or even believe a small dresser like hers could fall and kill her.  But it did.  Had I known the dangers and how to prevent it, she might be sitting her with us today. 

Yes, I've lost a child to a preventable accident.  Yes, the Nationwide ad made me cry.  Yes, it was a “buzzkill”.  It was probably a huge trigger to bereaved parents, especially those who have lost young children, especially those who lost children to an accident.  Anything that reminds a bereaved parent of their pain is.  It blindsided people, on purpose.  That’s exactly what happens when a child dies from a preventable accident, too.  One minute your child is fine and then, without warning, they are dead.  Trust me, I know.  It happened to at least one parent while they were watching the SuperBowl yesterday. 

The Nationwide SuperBowl ad was also brilliant.  Why? It was raw, real, honest, and absolute truth. It was creative and emotional. It started a conversation.  One no one wants to have.  Yet it’s one everyone should have.  One everyone needs to have. It hit at the fear of every parent; that their child could die.  It made millions of people aware not only that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children, but gave them a place to find information so they can prevent those accidents and protect their children.

In the time that commercial aired, at least one child died from a preventable accident.  That's 60 children that die every single hour!  In the time it took you to watch the entire SuperBowl, At least 12 children (3 every hour) were victims of a furniture or TV tip-over alone!  At least 240 children died around the world from accidents that could have been prevented!  All while millions "escaped" their problems and watched a game on TV.  Many were upset their good time was interrupted by such a dark and depressing ad.  Really.  They were upset Nationwide was trying to save the lives of children by using the largest audience of the year on National television.  

Were you among the people who took offense to the ad?  Why? 

Because it was “inappropriate”?  Do you not find the blatant promotion of alcohol, sex, and violence on TV and advertised during the SuperBowl  also inappropriate? 

Because it was a “downer?”  Because it made you sad or cry? Because it was about an adorable child that died and that made you uncomfortable?  A child just like mine, or perhaps, just like yours?

Because you had to explain to your children why that child died?  Have they ever watched a Disney movie?  Did you not see the teachable moment there to explain that going into water alone, playing in front of a TV, or eating things that are not food could be dangerous or even deadly?  Death is everywhere, it happens to everyone - eventually, and that conversation needs to happen.  No one is invincible. Were you upset because it made you afraid something could happen to your child?  Don't get mad, get smart.  Be pro-active.

Did the ad stir up some sort of emotion in you? Good. That was the point.  To get your attention.  To make you stop and think.  To educate you. 

People need to get their heads out of the sand!  Ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it protect anyone! Preventable accidents happen for two reasons, either because parents don’t know of the dangers, or worse, they do know and don’t believe that “it” can happen to their child, so they do nothing to prevent those accidents.  It can happen to your child.  It doesn't matter what "it" is, who you are, where you live, or how good of a parent you think you are. No one is immune.  No one.

Accidents happen, but they are ALL preventable.  Why wouldn't you want to do everything you can to prevent them and to protect your child?  If you already have, thank you. This ad was aimed at those who don’t know or don’t believe their child could be at risk.   Unfortunately, a recent study revealed that most parents think they are doing everything they can to make their homes safe, yet they are still unaware of many of the very things that are killing children in the home like tip-overs, strangulation, drowning, and poisoning, all of which can be easily prevented.

Are you angry that the ad hit you in the gut?  Perhaps you had that pissed off feeling that the ad “ruined” the warm, fuzzy, and funny SuperBowl commercial experience for you?  It killed your feel-good buzz? Think about this: that’s how it feels to bury a child who died from a preventable accident, only a thousand times worse, and then you have to carry that pain with you for the rest of your life. 240 parents had that feeling too while you watched the Superbowl, only it was because their kids actually did die from a preventable accident.  

Lucky for you, your warm fuzzies returned with the next ads. You complained about it, perhaps tweeted your disgust and went back to your regular life. For parents who have lost their children to a preventable accident, nothing is ever the same again.  Nothing.  

Think about that.  Imagine for a moment what it might be like if your child unexpectedly died today.  Now think about how you’d feel if you could have prevented it. Do you get it now?  

It’s not surprising the ad had so many negative reviews and comments.  It brought up a subject no one ever wants to talk about – death to children.  I can assure you that no parent that lost their child for ANY reason ever thought it would happen to them.  I sure as hell didn't.  Yet if any of us could have had information that might have saved our child’s life, we’d have given anything to know how we could have prevented our child’s death BEFORE they died!

Nationwide’s ad didn't stop with the message that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children.  It began there. They have also created a free website at and a free interactive app for both IOS and Android so parents can learn about these accidents and how to prevent them. 

Unfortunately, far too many people missed this valuable information.  Why?  Because thousands of people used the emotion the ad stirred up in them and jumped to a conclusion without having all the facts, without actually visiting the  website.  They may have been so shocked by the message of the ad that they did not see the link to the website at the end of the ad. They assumed because Nationwide is an insurance company that they were trying to use the preventable death of children to sell insurance!  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It does however speak to a different social problem we have, the one where misunderstandings are taken as truth and facts are not checked.  Shame on those who were reactive and formed an opinion before having the facts.

Think about this.  Had that ad been sponsored by Safe Kids or Meghan’s Hope, anyone other than Nationwide, would you have come to a different conclusion?  Would you have been more likely to go to the website and pay attention to the message of the ad?  I’m curious. 

Nationwide has a long history of advocating for child safety.  In fact they published a brochure on child safety in 1954 titled “Your Child’s Safety.” They have a 60-year partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  They have partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide on the Make Safe Happen Campaign as well as with other child safety advocates like myself and Meghan’s Hope.   There is a longer PSA about Make Safe Happen.  It was too long for the SuperBowl, but it explains the program in greater depth.   I encourage you to watch it

Do you want to learn what hazards may lurk in your home and how to prevent them from injuring or killing your child? Then go to and educate yourself.  Download the app. Let's Make Safe Happen.

Maybe if everyone does, every child will be able to get cooties, learn to fly, and get married.  I sure as hell wish my Meggie could have…

Disclaimer: Meghan’s Hope and Nationwide are partners in the Make Safe Happen campaign.  While all opinions expressed here are my own, I have received compensation from Nationwide for promotion of their Make Safe Happen campaign materially or financially.