Christmas is fast approaching—a time of love and a time for families.

It can also be a time of unimaginable sorrow if you are mourning a loved one, especially if that loved one is a child. Throughout history, women have lost children for a number of different reasons. Difficult births resulting in stillborn infants were once commonplace, as were deaths in infancy from such diseases as pneumonia, scarlet fever or smallpox. Thankfully, because of modern medicine and vaccines, many of those diseases have been eradicated.

Now, in the 21st Century, parents are losing children to other horrific kinds of death; murders, suicides, drugs and death on the roads. Young people take to the roads with little driving experience and operate powerful cars at high speeds, often without wearing seat belts and sometimes under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many of these tragedies are just plain suicidal stupidity and can be avoided.

I hasten to add that there are also many young people who are responsible, sensible drivers, but unfortunately we don’t hear about them in the media. I am addressing this to all those others who take foolish risks.

I cannot imagine anything more devastating in life than losing a child.  My heart goes out to each and every parent who has experienced that loss. For that reason, this blog is directed to all the young people out there who are presently looking forward to parties and holiday festivities, knowing that they might be tempted to drink a little too much, try drugs for the first time, or drive a little too fast.

I am sure that each and every one of you knows the dangers of drinking and high speed driving. It’s a deadly combination. I am also sure (because believe it or not I was once a teenager myself!), that no matter how many times you hear about these road tragedies, or even actually see the blood and carnage at the scene, you are convinced that IT will never happen to you because YOU are invincible.

I am also convinced that each of the young people who recently lost their lives in cars on our roads thought the very same thing.  It could never happen to them. Those things only happen to other people. What they did not think about, however, was what life would be like for their loved ones after they die.

As a mother and grandmother, I weep for all the parents who have recently lost a child through reckless behaviour on the roads. Parents who will have to spend the rest of their lives with the image of an horrific scene as their child’s body was crushed between metal, or tossed in the air like a piece of exquisite china landing on concrete to break into a thousand pieces. These parents will have to endure Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, and a hundred other special dates that meant something to their family. For the rest of their lives the memories will be with them. They will never forget.

Some will find help in their faith. Many will need counselling. Life will go on, but it will never be the same again.

This is the Christmas Season, a time of joy, and I do not mean to bring you down. But it seems we have already tried everything possible to stop these tragedies and yet they continue to happen.  We have educated young people about safe driving, about not speeding, about never drinking and driving.  Many people have volunteered at schools to talk of their own car crash experience which changed their lives forever.

I am sure kids listened – at the time.  But the very next week we hear of yet one more fatal episode on our roads. It continues to happen. Death of young people on the roads becomes yet another statistic.

Unlike many other child mortalities, these deaths ARE avoidable. So, something definitely has to change and I can think of only one more thing to ask of you all.

Before you take that drink, knowing you will be driving; OR before you get into an already over-crowded car knowing the driver has been drinking;  OR before you forget to fasten your seatbelt; OR before you put your foot on the gas pedal and wait for the adrenalin rush which comes with speed;

PLEASE STOP for one split second and say to yourself:

“If I die tonight, how will my parents ever be able to live normal lives again?   How will my little sister or brother cope without me?  How will my friends bear the loss of our friendship?  My recklessness tonight will cause a lifetime of grief  for them all.”

Ignore the peer pressure which tells you it’s cool to drink too much or drive too fast. It is much cooler to be alive the morning after the party instead of crushed and beyond recognition lying in the morgue.

Even if this Christmas plea only saves the life of just ONE young person over the festive season, then this plea will have achieved its purpose. The decision you make to drive with care, not get into a car driven by someone who has been drinking, or to call a cab or a parent to come and get you, will ultimately save your life.

Life is beautiful and you have a lifetime ahead of you to enjoy it. Please don’t waste it. You are our future. And without a future, there can be no past.