When Accidents Happen

Managing the fears of life and accidents

In the News

Natasha Richardson: When Accidents Happen

Managing fears

-Julie Ryan Evans

One minute Natasha Richardson was enjoying a ski vacation with her sons at a Canadian resort, and the next, her life was over.

During a private ski lesson on March 16, the 45-year-old actress who was married to Liam Neeson, took a tumble on a beginner’s run. She initially seemed fine and walked back to her room.

But a headache sent her to the hospital, and things got worse from there. Initial reports were that she was brain dead, having suffered from Talk and Die Syndrome in which the victim has bleeding around the brain without showing any external signs. Then just three days later her family confirmed that she passed away

It happened in an instant, just like that.

While we all grieve for her and her family, it’s a jolting reminder of how fragile and out of our control our lives really are. “It” can happen to any of us, to any of those we love. We can work to build a great life, raise a wonderful family, do good and have a successful career, and then with no warning, no justification, it can be taken.

I think about “it” all the time. I think about it when my son gets in the car with someone other than me, and I wave goodbye to him. I think about it when I watch him dive into the swimming pool and when he eats a piece of steak that he could choke on. I think about it when he’s at school and sometimes even when he’s sitting across from me on the couch watching TV and I hear an airplane fly overhead – they have been known to crash into houses after all.

I think about it when I imagine my infant daughter getting dropped, or when I sign the form consenting to allow her to be injected with vaccines. I think about it when I walk down our steep staircase with her and imagine tripping …

Though all the worrying probably takes years off of my life and puts many more on my face, I continuously think about countless “its”. I know it’s not productive, and most accidents that happen are likely ones that never even occurred to the persons involved. But, common sense does little in the face of my fears.

There was the six-month period last year in which my son needed stitches THREE TIMES! And each time the total flukes happened – golf club to the head, running into a pole and tripping going up a slide – the fear of what could have happened, what could happen at any minute, any time, overwhelmed me. And for days after each encounter my heart lurched with every step he took; everything seemed dangerous.

Then as the stitches were removed and scars started to heal, I relaxed a little bit more and more each day he went by unscathed.

Because I have to move on, move on from incidents and move on from thoughts about accidents that could happen, or I will be paralyzed by them.

So while on one hand, hearing about accidents, like Richardson’s, makes me want to wrap my children up in a cocoon and never let them out of my sight. (But then surely the material of the cocoon would be toxic, and they’d contract cancer or die of rickets from Vitamin D deficiency … or something.)

On the other hand, it actually relives me of some of my worrying because I’m reminded how random accidents are, how little control we have over them no matter how much worrying we do, and how we should enjoy life to its fullest while its ours to live.

So I say yes when my son asks if he can eat the food that fell on the floor. I sign him up for golf lessons again. I take him back to the playground and cheer him to climb higher, and I book tickets to go out of town and leave my newborn daughter in someone else’s care. I encourage my children to take risks and to embrace all that life has to offer.  Because I know that it can be changed in an instant. Just like that.

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0 thoughts on “When Accidents Happen

  1. This is so sad about her, and reading the rest of your story makes me wonder how moms ever get through a day without a heart attack for the worry of all the “dangers” out there.

  2. Regarding our fears for our kids, my daughter just had three moles removed and the doctor’s office left a message for me at home saying to please call the nurse, after we had just been in that day to have some stitches removed. I started freaking out because they didn’t say anything to us when we were in the office just hours before and it was too late in the day to return the call. So I worried all night that the results had come back with signs of cancer. Thankfully, when I called the next day, the results were benign, but as mothers, we cannot go a single day without a worry.

  3. This article reminds me of my mom – when I was little and was always scared of bad things happening she ALWAYS just encouraged me to not worry because it was out of my hands and just focus on living life to the fullest every day.

  4. This is so shocking. It’s horrible to think how one moment someone can just disappear so suddenly. It really makes me appreciate my loved ones so much more.

  5. It’s such a wake up call every time you hear about a tragedy like this! They remind you to hug your family, say I love you and focus on the true priorities in life!
    Best wishes to Natasha and her family- miracles do happen!

  6. It truly is awful. We all need to value every second we have and not sweat the small stuff. We could walk outside and get hit by a brick – you never know…

  7. This story has haunted me all day. Natasha and her husband, Liam Neeson, really seemed like some of the nicest and most normal people in Celebrity Land. My heart really goes out to the whole family, especially their boys. I know this accident will just add one more fear to my already too-long list!

  8. So sad…I remember falling in love with the couple when hearing an interview with Liam, and he commented on how they argue…He said that he enjoyed being able to argue with his wife, because that showed him that they are passionate…He said that a couple that doesn’t argue, is lacking the one thing that could keep them together…So human and so beautifully true…My heart breaks for him, and I pray for his wife. I really hope these reports aren’t true…

  9. This is so sad. I’ve seen Natasha around town before and have met her husband, Liam twice, she was such a radiant human being and he is so kind, my heart goes out to her family during this difficult time.

  10. I am still in shock! Natasha was a wonderful actress and human being who championed great causes. My heart goes out to their family during this tragic time. It reminds me that life is so fleeting, live every day with joy.

  11. My heart just breaks for Liam and his family. What a tragedy. Just goes to remind you that life can change in an instant and you need to enjoy each and every day.

  12. Just goes to show how fleeting life can be. You can only live your life every day to the fullest and be careful. If you stress out about everything, the simple enjoyments of life will pass you by.

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