By Daniel Casciato
Bernice Bright Dickey will never forget that fateful day when she lost her both husband and daughter to the same auto accident. She was sitting at home alone waiting for her husband, Kevin, and two daughters to arrive when a breaking news report interrupted the program she was watching.
Dickey immediately recognized her SUV as the one involved in a tragic auto and train collision that already had two confirmed fatalities (her husband of 12½ years and her oldest child). The only survivor was her infant daughter who was in critical condition at an area hospital in Sugar Land, TX. She became paralyzed by the news report and couldn’t move until the police came to notify her of the accident almost two hours later by knocking on her front door.
“I can’t put into words how devastated I was by watching my own story headlining the news,” she recalls. “It’s incomprehensible how alone I felt after watching and hearing that life as I knew it as a wife and mother of two girls was over and the only person who could have prevented this horrible tragedy was the same person I had to lean and depend on to see me through—God.”
Dickey had a difficult time moving through her grief over the multiple losses of her late husband and oldest daughter while caring for an injured baby who suffered second and third degree burns on one side of her body. The process was long and hard and she became stuck in grief several times along the way.
“My faith in God had to transition into unwavering trust in God in order for me to cope with this experience and to conquer the clinical depression I experienced as a result of it,” she says. “I went to therapy, took antidepressants and prayed a lot to God to help me come through this ordeal.”
Family and friends did the best they could for Dickey and the baby. She remembers being so out of it that her sisters, Charlotta and Jeanette, created a schedule for friends and relatives to take vacation and leave time from work to move in with her to help her out.
“I wasn’t aware of what they did for me until the six-week schedule was almost over,” Dickey says. “I just knew that every time I opened my bedroom door, someone was there to tend to me and they were taking care of the baby and household for me. I never would have made it without them.”
After a few years, Dickey was able to emerge triumphantly out of the dark cave of deep depression and able to share her journey through grief with others as encouragement for them to expect the same victory for themselves.
Today, the retired educator works as an Educational Consultant for BRIGHT Educational Resources, LLC. She is also the author of the newly released book: My #1 Is Still My #1! This book chronicles her own true story and inspirational journey of triumph over tragedy after the loss of both her husband and ten-year-old daughter at the same time.
“I feel that everything I have experienced up until this point in my life has prepared me for today,” she says. “I had previously experienced the loss of my parents due to a car accident and thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen to me until 11 years later when half of my family died in the automobile-train collision.”
Everything that Dickey ever learned about grief and loss through books, personal experience and the bible helped her to navigate through the heartache of losing family members in a car accident again.
“I also think that my personality traits of tenacity, perseverance and long suffering allowed me to endure the hardship of multiple losses of loved ones until I came through my overwhelming grief,” she says.
As a result of her own painful and long journey through grief, she remains committed to being for others what she didn’t have for myself—a blueprint for successfully coming through grief and loss—no matter the details of the loss.
“Loss is loss, and though mine is on the extreme side because of multiple losses at the same time, the message of hope and inspiration is the same for all who are grieving,” she explains. “You can and will make it through your grief and losses, your life is not over, and you do have the power to get unstuck and move on again.”
Dickey believes that the most difficult issue for people who are divorced, widowed and separated is being alone again.
“You still see yourself as part of a couple—at least I did—and there is a shifting that needs to occur mentally to line up with your new status whether you wanted it or not,” she says. “I still hung out with married folks and that really wasn’t good for my psyche because I was constantly reminded of who was missing—my late husband—and I set myself up for bitterness about my circumstances and resentment of those who still had their spouses.”
Her advice to people who have lost a loved one is to give yourself time to grieve and don’t try to ignore your feelings like they aren’t real.
“You have experienced a loss that needs to be acknowledged, processed and reconciled,” she says. “Give yourself time and permission to experience your loss or else you will end up as a delayed griever, not understanding where the feelings are coming from because the manifestation such as the tears, anger, frustration about new status, will be displayed at a time not even remotely connected to the event that brings on the emotional outburst but only served as the emotional trigger for your unexpressed grief from the past.”
Besides her family, Dickey says that characters from the Bible like Joseph, Job, and Jesus inspired her and motivated her to believe that she could endure the pain and suffering that she was going through and that she would “live to tell the story and give God all the Glory.”
In fact, her new motto is “To God Be The Glory for Transforming My Story,” which is her paraphrase of Romans 8:28 (NKJV) from the Bible: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.”
To connect with Bernice today to explore how she can add value to your upcoming event, workshop, or conference and how quantity purchases of “My #1 is Still My #1!” can empower your audiences to take steps today along their own journeys to recovery from grief to achieve triumphs of their own. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call her on her direct line at 832-361-1204 today, and visit the website at www.bernicebrightdickey.com. .