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Saturday Morning Coffee; Child Killers & The People Who Have to Be Nice To Them

saturday morning coffeeLast night I had my sweetheart, his son, and my son together around the table to enjoy a meal together for Easter. With young adult children and their crazy schedules, family time is precious, and to have both families blend together during these holidays is a true joy.

Simple things like having dinner together every day, and making sure you say, “I love you”, before you head out the door are mandatory at my house. Maybe a little too obsessively-compulsively so.

You see, my career is death and dying. The fragile nature of life is not lost on me, and maybe I have some PTSD going on. Ok, I do have some of that going on,  but I think that’s normal under the circumstances.

Easter dinner with the kids was extra meaningful for me in ways that I’m sure people who don’t work around loss and trauma will never know. Nor should they.

This morning I sat down to my little window, with my coffee and kitty mentor, Mr. Willy Nelson. I cruised over to www.thestar.ca and read the article about Ontario’s Chief Pathologist, Dr. Micheal Pollanen.

Basically, the crux of the article was that Dr. Pollanen has been guilty of confirmation bias;

Among them was confirmation bias — reaching a conclusion and working backward to find evidence to support it, and professional credibility bias — being unwilling to change an opinion once stated.

 

Fine. I get it, and god forbid I was on the receiving end of a case where a professional reasoned that I was guilty and then tried to prove it. Basically, you’d be screwed.

But the point of my little blog here isn’t to crucify Dr. Pollanen. I worked with him. I didn’t really like him – let me be clear, that’s my personal opinion. He seemed to be book-smart-brilliant, and socially awkward. But most of the doctors down there fit that description.

At the Office of the Chief Coroner, one finds that ego-with-a-capital-E runs rampant, and the term Doctor warrants a god-like-untouchable-status to anyone who doesn’t have the same credentials. Humility has no place there. There are few exceptions.

The reality however is that those coroners are human too, and I would argue, because of their perceived status as stronger, more intelligent and wiser-than-the-average-bear, they are at higher risk for PTSD, burn-out and the other psychological monsters-that-go-bump-in-the-night. Sure, they have  access to support, but there is no system in place to monitor it. There is no formal support in place to insure that the mental health of  professionals subjected to the most brutal trauma imaginable is cared for.

During my training, a past Chief Coroner ended his lecture to my graduating class by telling us that if we ever felt that we needed counselling or help coping with trauma, that we should suck it up because that was our job. This was hands-down the worst advice I’ve received in my career.

I too have seen the trauma of a child’s lifeless body marked by abuse, accidental injuries or what appears to be a cold-blooded homicide. I’ve looked into the teary eyes of grieving siblings who are too young to have know what grief feels like.  I’ve done it many times, it’s part of my job.  Unless you’ve physically had to take part in the autopsy or preparation of the body, you do not have any idea what it’s like to be a professional in death care, so stop judging and proselytizing.

You don’t know the deeper level of concern that we bear when our child or spouse takes the car, or is running late. Working with trauma brings you face to face with the fickle nature of mortality every. single. moment. of. every. day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing Dr. Pollanen, I’m simply empathizing with him. You might want to try it sometime.

Ask yourself this; In a courtroom full of adults unwilling to admit that they either abused or neglected a child to the point of death, I wonder what the average reader of the morning paper would do? Part of me likes to think that they would rage and deliver a little eye-for-an-eye justice, the other part of me is a passive Buddhist.

So, as I sit here this morning, sipping my flavoured coffee, looking out at children in the courtyard giggling and scurrying during the annual Easter Egg hunt, I ask you to think of Dr. Pollanen as a human being who has dedicated his life to making our society a safer place.

 

 

 

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Best of One of A Kind Show Toronto 2016

There’s something magical about beautiful pieces of practical every-day clothing and necessities.  At this stage of life, I am packing up and moving on, and I have decided not to move anything that is not useful and beautiful.

Hence my journey to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. My gal-pal and I had a hoot trying on hats, and egging one another on to treat ourselves. I managed to pick up most of the remaining Christmas gifts on my list, and felt like a million bucks when I left.

If you’re looking for something fun and a few little unique treats, give it a whirl. Here are a few of my personal favourites…

Hats

Oh boy, did we ever shop for hats. Wildhagen’s booth caught my eye ( a name close to my heart). I buckled and bought a piece of art to wear on my head…and I love it! My teenage son loves it, and buying it made me feel the tiniest bit guilty for possessing something so delightful!

This is the hat that came in as runner up, and I have decided that a quick jaunt to Queen Street will one day make it mine…perhaps in winter white.

wildhagenhat

 

Arts/Crafts

Admittedly I love to drink my tea from pottery mugs. Junichi Tanaka’s ceramics stole my heart. Each piece beautifully and thoughtfully made, with a craftsman who cares about the purpose of his vessels. Mr. Tanaka offered us water to pour from his exquisitely made tea-pots to ensure a drip-free pour.  I managed to bring home a small bowl with an iridescent rust, pewter and purple/red sheen and a small serving plate that spoke to me.

tanaka

 

JEWELLERY

Shelly Purdy Sutdio’s Canadian Sunset Ring stole my heart.  Reminiscent of our precious summer days in the north, the ring symbolizes everything I’ve known to be summer holidays. The bottom row of diamonds symbolizes the lake, and the centre diamond the setting sun, and who could possibly mistake the Group-of-Sevenesque pine?

corona_sunset_mld_and_seasons_by_shelly_grande

 

Handbags

And last but not least, who can really resist a practical handbag? After gathering Christmas gifts, I have left this one on my list of must haves. The perfect messenger bag awaits from Nautilos. Available in so many more delightful colours than basic black (although the black is lovely). Hot Pink was the hands-down favourite, followed by the yellow, and turquoise.

handbag

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Pray for Yourself; A Meditation on the Reaction to the Paris Attack

peace with the worldIn the wake of the Paris attack, social media is packed with poo-pooing and  finger-pointing at what we should or should not be indignant about.

Shut up. All of you. Shut up and listen. Rather, talk, then shut up, in order that you may listen.

We need to have the one-sided, anger-fuelled comments to ignite conversation. Every word, post, or hashtag is proof that freedom (of expression) is still alive and well. Be thankful for it. Do you think that we maintain freedom of speech as a priority by staying silent? No.

Share your visceral, emotional reactions, and listen when someone else shares theirs. Pretty soon you figure out that we’re all human, and we all want a healthy life for our loved ones and the world.

Be willing to engage in conversation that stretches your perspective and opens your mind enough to think of alternatives; both you the rose-coloured-glasses-wearing-hippies, and the gun-toting-war-mongers.

Black and white rarely exist when it comes to human ethics. We live in a vast, grey universe, and it can be beautiful if you let go of fear and dive in.

Please, do pray for Paris. It stands as a symbol of vibrancy, art, and creativity. Pray for Lebanon and Syria….the list goes on and on and on.

Mostly pray for yourself; that you take that peace you preach about, out into the world every day. Pray that you have the courage to set an example in the face of adversity and the popular kids. Pray for that, and the rest will fall into place.