Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Parenting Pointers: Surviving a Nightmare

Any parent can attest to the worry that comes with having children. It’s a constant second-guessing game of wondering if they are safe and healthy.
“At That Moment,” by Dawn Marie Nappi, PhD., is one mother’s story about the unthinkable happening: her 14-year-old daughter’s tragic death from a car accident.  
Dr. Nappi shares her story, via a heartfelt memoir, in which she details the foreboding moments leading up to the accident, as well as her journey to restore and rebuild the remaining pieces of her life, through faith and hope.
“If I ever had any doubt of God’s presence in my life, those were cast away after we lost Angelica,” Dr. Nappi said. “There is no way I would have survived this, if there was no God to carry me through it.”
Dr. Nappi said that forgiveness has been key to her healing after unimaginable loss. She even has a dedication in her book to the man responsible for her daughter’s death.
“There is hope for all those suffering at the hands of addiction,” Dr. Nappi said. “You don’t have to live under that stronghold anymore.”
I had a chance to interview Dr. Nappi to learn more.
 There's a mention of "foreboding moments" leading up to the accident. Can you explain that?
The morning of the accident, I felt compelled to go and pray for the safety of my children. I couldn’t explain it, but in obedience I went into my bedroom, got on my knees and prayed for traveling mercies. It wasn’t until an hour and a half later that I received the dreaded phone call and understood the reason for my prayer. I later learned that if the car my children were driving in were going a little slower, the impact would have hit the fuel tank directly, most likely resulting in an explosion. I truly believe that all of the passengers in the car would have died, resulting in the death of both my daughters. My two daughters had switched seats just before their departure. Nicolette was the only one who came away with no physical injuries. 

I know when tragedy strikes, we're often concerned about what we could have done differently. How do you cope with that?
I battled with, “What if I never allowed my kids to go to the sleepover?” I beat myself up over this, that perhaps I should have inquired more specifically about the driving arrangements. I know that God is in ultimate control and that succumbing to guilt will only prevent me from moving forward in my healing process. I needed to heal in order for God to use me effectively in my ministry of helping other bereaved parents and ministering to addicts. 

How did forgiveness play a role in healing?
Forgiveness is freeing. I thank God for His gift of mercy because without it I would be consumed with anger. As the bible says, “Anger gives a foothold to the devil.” As a mother and wife, I needed to find inner peace and strength so I would be able to go about my life uninhibited by unhealthy emotions. 

What words of wisdom can you share with someone else going through their own tragedy?
For anyone facing tragedy, seek the Lord, as He was my only source of strength and comfort. He provided a peace that surpasses all understanding. It is when you are weak and broken to your innermost being that God’s strength will rise up in you. 

Dr. Nappi received her BA and MA degrees from Dowling College. She achieved her PhD. in Leadership and Higher Education from Capella University and currently teaches in the Central Islip District. She is the mother of four. She and her husband of 23 years reside in Holbrook, N.Y. with their family and three dogs. Dr. Nappi works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Long Island, to help victims of drunk/drugged driving. She is also making efforts to pass “Angelica’s Law” to toughen vehicle and traffic code penalties.

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