Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2008 9:47 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
In the episode “An Innocent Murder” in Dick Van Dyke’s mystery television series “Diagnosis Murder,” Ashley York, a teenager, murders her sick father, Arthur York, with an overdose of medication. Arthur’s death appears to be a suicide until Dr. Mark Sloan discovers some obvious inconsistencies that lead him to suspect homicide.
When the truth about Ashley’s murdering her father is revealed, she explains her reason for killing him. She said that while she and her younger sister were swimming, her sister dove into the water and died when she hit her head and broke her neck. She later attempted to explain to her father that it was an accident, and that she had gone into the water and desperately tried to save her sister. However, in spite of her effort to explain the situation, she said that father had always blamed her, hated her and said it was her fault that her sister died.
It is unfortunate that, during a time of tragedy, people sometimes say cruel and judgmental things out of anger to another person whom they blame for the tragic occurrence, and, though it was said in “the heat of the moment,” they never correct it, take it back or discuss it further with the person to whom they said it.
This can occur, for example, when two teenagers are on a date and there is a car wreck in which one of them is killed; when two friends are together and one dies accidentally; or when a divorced parent is keeping a child for the weekend and something happens to cause the accidental death of the child. Just as Arthur York blamed his daughter, Ashley, for her sister’s death, it is not uncommon for bereaved people to say cruel and judgmental things at a time like this. People who are active in this “blame-game” are basically saying, “Their death is your fault.”
Many bereaved people have confided to me that these “killer-words” kill both the spirit of the one to whom they are spoken and their relationship with people who speak them. What Arthur York said to his daughter, Ashley, killed their relationship forever.
There is something ominous about these “killer-words” that has a deep and profound effect on the person to whom they are directed. There is no way to measure the pain and heartache these judgmental and accusatory words create. It reminds us of how the “killer-words” kill the motivation, enthusiasm and self-confidence of a student who is told that he/she cannot succeed or fulfill a certain aspiration.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelford funeraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.09.08