published in Grief by Maryanne | September 22, 2010

A Decade of Growth

Like a new forest springing to life after the destruction of a forest fire, the ten years since John’s death have been a period of phenomenal personal growth for me.

Although much of my growth in the early years was done so kicking and screaming, once the tender shoots started to spring up through the charred remains of the previous forest, the growth did get easier…especially once I stopped fighting the process.

Working with the police officers who started the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund to transform it into an organization that successfully raises public awareness about workplace safety issues facing emergency services personnel played a significant role in my coming to terms with – and accepting – John’s death as the result of a preventable fall at an unsafe workplace.

By producing educational tools in the form of five public service announcements and a safety video, the JPMF is not only actively educating people about the various building and traffic hazards facing emergency workers, we also provide people with practical tips they can implement to help ensure police officers, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck drivers, peace officers, etc make it home safely to their families after every shift.

The workplace safety education being done by the JPMF is ensuring that positive change comes from John’s death – and this is extremely important to me. John wasn’t just my husband and best friend – he was also my soul mate. As such, I intuitively knew what had to be done in the wake of his death and because of the commitment of the officers who started – and are still involved with – the JPMF as well as many others along the way, such as the Managing Director, Ian Wilson, I am now at peace knowing that John’s death was not in vain.

My writing is another means by which I found my way through the grieving process. Writing my book, A Widow’s Awakening, helped me find meaning both in John’s death and in my new life. And along the way, I finally figured out why my life dream had always been to be a writer: I love writing!

In fact, I have become a bit of a writing machine over the past decade…learning to write plays, screenplays, short stories and articles. Writing is my passion.

The past ten years have not been easy. At times, the projects I chose to put my time, effort, love and money into have been incredibly frustrating and challenging. It has been an insane amount of hard work with very little financial return…at least in the traditional sense. Because John died in the line of duty, I receive his paycheque – and will do so for the rest of my life.

For many years, I think I felt a deep-rooted guilt about the fact that while John’s dream was to become a police officer, he ended up giving his life protecting a premise that did not need protecting – and because of this, I receive his paycheque, which enables me to pursue my dream of writing. But I’ve come now to understand that the source of one’s paycheque is far less important than what one does for work.

Through the agony of loss, John’s death has taught me that change is inevitable – and that what may seem at first like utter devastation can bring vital new growth.

Maryanne Pope is the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund and the author of A Widow’s Awakening.  Maryanne lives in Sidney, BC with her two dogs.

2 Comments

  1. Pistol on September 22nd, 2010 at 3:35 pm:

    Hey Pope I sit here in my truck reading what you write you are so passionate and strong.10 years WOW.what would we have done without you in our lives we miss you And love you.Petropoulos 5

  2. Elizabeth O'Dell on September 22nd, 2010 at 3:53 pm:

    Thank you for a well-timed reminder that real growth is not without pain. Three years out from my own personal tsunami, I am just beginning to see some hope and light around the edges of the dark — and you know it is always darkness right before dawn. Strange to say this while I am currently sitting without a job (thank you, Govt of AB downsizing) and possibly facing a move to find a job. But everywhere I look I see reminders that the Divine has a Plan for me that I cannot fully see . . . and that whatever happens I will be OKAY.

    HUGS and much Love to you . . . know I am sending up a prayer for you – – for Peace as you continue your journey.

    Namaste,
    Elizabeth

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