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Lynda Fishman


by Rhonda Spivak, October 14, 2014


In 1970, when she was 13, Lynda Fishman's  mother and two sisters were killed in an Air Canada plane crash that killed all 109 people on board.  On October 23, Fishman, who is  now a clinical social worker , inspirational speaker and author of  Repairing Rainbows, will be in Winnipeg to speak about loss, grief and moving forward at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue at 7:30  at an event put on by the Jewish Child and Family Services. She will share her moving story and her eight “happiness-inducing choices” which helped her move forward from the loss and grief and enabled to her to live a happy and meaningful life.


"The loss was beyond devastating. My father fell into a deep depression, numb to life; I was essentially left to fend for myself," said Fishman


"I had no one to talk to. In the 70's, no "grief counsellors" or "therapists" arrived at my school or at my home, as happens today. I didn't get any help to understand, express and process my grief. "


"Not knowing how to handle the subject of death and grief, people around us thought it best to never talk about it. .. My relatives put away family pictures, all of my mother's and sisters' personal items were cleared out of our house and  my dad and I were expected to move on with our lives and reconstruct our world as if nothing had happened," Fishman added.


She notes that "I didn't meet others who  like me had lost loved ones in the plane crash until forty years later."


Fishman says that, "Grieving family members need to feel that the death is not too terrible to mention, and that their loved one will not be forgotten. It is said that healthy grieving is about rebuilding life, while still remembering and cherishing the memories of the person who died."


When Fishman began writing Repairing Rainbows, "all of the grief and sadness came pouring out with gut-wrenching emotion. Repairing Rainbows is the story of my life and how I dealt with personal tragedy, and the choices I made along the way."


Fishman understood, even as a thirteen year old, that "we all have choices, and we make choices."


"It seemed obvious to me that the more choices I made, the more alive I would feel; and when you feel more alive, you make healthier choices. And so I made choices....No matter how hard it was, and it was hard, I was not willing to succumb to despair. I was not going to give up. Giving up was NEVER an option for me.


I made a conscious choice to find the strength to overcome the grief and to overpower the sadness. I wanted what everyone wants: to feel joy and happiness, to laugh and have fun. So I chose to LIVE," she noted.


"I feel I learned many lessons throughout my life, and as a result I share my story at charity and fund-raising events by speaking without charging any speaking fee," said Fishman who added that "As a badly wounded teenager, I chose a life of hope and happiness, and I continue to choose that life every day."


In the interview, Fishman, who completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work and was a summer camp owner and director for almost 25 years, shared that one of  the eight happiness inducing choices is " Choose to help others." Fishman discovered that what really helped her chart a new course for her life was to keep busy, and be focused on helping others.


"I spent as much time as possible volunteering on the children's floor at a hospital. I would spend time playing with children who had cancer or other horrible illnesses, making them smile or laugh, distracting them from their pain, because knowing that I was helping them, made me feel better. I intuitively understood that the best way to cheer myself up, was to try to cheer someone else up. And, the best part about helping others was that it took the focus off my problems. It was like taking a badly needed break from my own pain and grief."


As she said, "One of the most fulfilling and rewarding things that we can do is to help others. We bring happiness to our own lives when we understand the importance of helping others who are dealing with challenges and difficulties."


Another one of Fishman's eight “happiness-inducing choices” is to "Choose to spend time with animals."



Fishman has two dogs and also has rescued tiny kittens and has given them round-the-clock feedings "because they were too young to be away from their mother." 


As Fishman says of spending time with pets, "We have much to learn and gain from spending time with animals, especially dogs and cats. Aside from being positive, sincere, loyal and faithful, they intuitively understand forgiveness, gratitude, appreciation, unconditional love, helping others, and patience. They have so much to teach us about happiness."


Fishman met her husband Barry when "we were both 17" and her husband 'had just been orphaned" and says they were each "right in the throws of trauma."



"Barry was seven months old when his mother died suddenly, leaving his dad alone to care for him and his four-year-old brother who was developmentally delayed. After raising his boys alone for almost 17 years, Barry's dad died suddenly of a heart attack.'



As Fishman said, "Our lives were difficult, but we chose to stay positive and optimistic. We chose not to indulge in self-pity. We were determined that our past pain and suffering would not rob us of our present and future happiness.'


The Fishman's have three children, a son-in-law, and two grandsons.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.