Did you see the Nationwide Make Safe Happen Superbowl Ad? If you have not, please beware it may be a powerful trigger for you. How did it make you feel? There is also a longer Ad that explains the Make Safe Happen program in more depth and is a little less emotionally jarring here.
No matter how new or “old” your grief, anything that reminds you of your child, their death, or the way they died could certainly be a trigger. That commercial no doubt blindsided everyone, but it may have been especially difficult for bereaved parents, especially those who lost young children, and especially if their child died from a preventable accident.
While it’s understandable that bereaved parents might be angered or upset by the commercial, it is my hope that they will be able to understand two things through their grief.
First, triggers are a normal and unavoidable part of grieving and you should absolutely talk about your feelings. Get support if you need it. It’s okay to feel that pain. It’s okay to cry, to be angry, and to suddenly be brought back to the day and way your child died. It’s difficult and it’s upsetting but it’s also a normal part of grieving. No one wants to be blindsided by a trigger. Triggers hurt, no matter what causes them. Allow yourself time to process, to understand where those feelings you are having are coming from and why. Remember, they are born of love. The love you have for your child.
Nationwide did not make the commercial with any disrespect for bereaved parents. Quite the contrary, they are sympathetic to your pain and want to spare others the same pain. They did so with a boldly emotional ad that was designed to get people’s attention and make them aware of what they can do to protect their children, so no other parent need ever know our pain.
The ad brought up all the things we, as bereaved parents, struggle with every single day. The fact that our child died. The fact they will never get cooties, learn to fly, ride their bike, or get married. We’ll never see them grow up or grow older. Our children are like the boy in the ad. They died and were denied their future… we were denied our future the way we imagined it would be. It reminds us that our dreams were snatched from us. This ad blatantly and unexpectedly reminded us of that. That was not Nationwide’s intent, but it is an unavoidable side effect of their very emotional ad.
For some parents, you may have been reminded of how your child died. Perhaps your child died of drowning, of a tip-over, from a car accident, or from poisoning or choking. Perhaps the children pictured in the ad were similar in age or appearance to your child. Perhaps the other images were relatable for you and it was disturbing. Perhaps you still harbor guilt because you were not able to prevent the cause of your child’s death and this commercial stirred that up. At a time when you were having an otherwise enjoyable time, perhaps with your grief on the back burner, only to have it brought to the surface and “ruin” your day. Believe me, I get that. I still carry guilt with me and I always will.
Please remember, Nationwide meant no disrespect to bereaved parents. It would not hurt so much if it were not for the fact we love them so much. We miss them so much. We’d give anything to have them back. They get that.
Which brings me to the second point; I desperately hope that despite the pain and feelings that might have surfaced as you watched that commercial, that you don’t lose sight of the very important message the ad was trying to convey. Nationwide wants to prevent kids from dying. They want to tackle the fact that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children. They don’t want any other parent to ever know our pain. They want to save the lives of children.
Yes, I’ve lost a child to a preventable accident. Yes, the Nationwide ad made me cry. Yes, it was a “buzzkill.” It blindsided people, on purpose. That’s exactly what happens when a child dies from a preventable accident, too. As bereaved parents know all too well, one minute your child is fine and then, without warning, they are dead. It happened to at least one parent while they were watching the SuperBowl yesterday.
The Nationwide SuperBowl ad was also brilliant. Why? It was raw, real, honest, and absolute truth. It was creative and emotional. It started a conversation. One no one wants to have. Yet it’s one everyone should have. One everyone needs to have. It hit at the fear of every parent; that their child could die. Something we know all too well.
It made millions of people aware not only that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children, but gave them a place to find information so they can prevent those accidents and protect their children. They have a free website www.makesafehappen.com and a free IOS and Android app that allows parents to go room by room, by age, or by safety category to find out what dangers may lurk and how to prevent them from injuring or killing their child. They give strategies and resources for prevention.
That information may not apply to you, but there are millions of parents who need that information. There are millions of children whose lives could be potentially saved with this information. The SuperBowl was the best way to reach the most parents at once. Nationwide was not the only company raising a social issue during the SuperBowl. They were not the only one pulling at heart strings. They just happened to be one of the ads that unintentionally hit bereaved parents the hardest.
As many of you may know, I am a vocal child safety advocate. I lost my Meggie when she was 3 to a furniture tip-over. I started Meghan’s Hope to educate other parents about the danger of tip-over and prevention so no other child would die the way Meggie did. Yet they still are, and in greater numbers than before! I have partnered with Nationwide on their Make Safe Happen campaign because I can’t do it alone. Because I believe we need to raise awareness and I know for a fact raw emotion can compel at least some people to action. Because I believe with education and resources and a wakeup call, we can save lives.
I’m sure if any of us had the knowledge and the resources to prevent our child’s death, we would have. No matter what the cause of their death was. Yes, we are still hurting, and in many ways, always will be. We can’t let our own pain cloud the fact other parents can be spared our pain.
May you find comfort and peace in your grief and find a place in your heart to understand Nationwide meant no disrespect, no ill intent to parents who have lost their child. They want to protect children. They want to save lives. They want to spare parents our pain.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own, however Kimberly and Meghan’s Hope are partners with Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen Campaign and has received compensation materially or financially for the promotion of the Make Safe Happen Campaign.