Tsunami Grief

A one-hour warning

We were awoken abruptly at 3:50 am one morning this past week. There was loud banging on the front door of our ocean side condo. Startled and fearful of whom it might be, I hesitated to open the door. After the second round of loud knocking, I decided to open the door only to find myself face to face with a fire fighter in full uniform. So many things passed through my mind at that moment. His expression and his words were serious and intense.

“There is a tsunami warning in effect. You must evacuate your premises. We are expecting the tsunami to hit this area within the hour, so don’t delay. Here are the directions to the evacuation centre,” he said to me. I was still half asleep, so it took me a couple of minutes to get my bearings and realize the implications of what was coming.

I had never been involved in a tsunami evacuation before, so I didn’t really know what to expect or what to bring with me as we left. Oceanside living is new to us, having moved here just three months ago.

We grabbed a few random things and left as quickly as we could. It’s strange what you think about when the unexpected happens in life. My first thought was: I hope the car starts! Fortunately, it did.

About an hour later, we returned to our condo – danger averted – all was well again.

Once home, my wife, Erica, decided to put an emergency kit together, just in case it happens again. I’m not quite sure what’s in it, but I’m assuming an extra set of clothes, toiletries, a snorkel, bottled water…I don’t know, but if it happens again, we hope we’re ready.

Grief comes unexpectedly and in waves too. You can’t always predict how it will come crashing into your life or banging on your door. But grief will come.

How might we prepare?

Expect it. Don’t ignore it. Get ready and enter into it as best you can, knowing that it will return at various points in your life and leave again like waves on the shore.

Don’t go around grief. Don’t let it stop you. There’s only one healthy way and that’s to step into it.

You will be OK. You really will.





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