We both reached for the mobile phone lying on the sofa at the same time.

“I have to take this into evidence,” he said.

Holding out his hand he added “Yours too please”

I had no choice – I had to hand over my phone to the policeman.

Less than 2 hours before the bottom had fallen out of my world when I found my husband Chris dead on the very same sofa. I tried CPR, but knew deep down he was gone. The first responder told me to stop.

Now I was being robbed of the tools with which I could pass on the sad news.

I later found out it was down to a mistake. 

Mis-spoken words. 

The wrong word was used to describe a situation and it resulted in the hardest 48 hours of my life. An incorrect word used due to haste and inexperience had dramatic consequences.

You see, there is a very big difference between SUDDENLY and SUSPICIOUSLY!

The young policeman, only a couple of weeks into the job and attending his very first death, used the wrong word when he reported back to his superiors over the radio that early morning in December 2013.

He had meant to tell the control room that he had attended the scene of a SUDDEN death. But the word he actually used was SUSPICIOUS.

The second the word had left his mouth the chain of events started.

Snowballed. Quickly.

There was nothing he could do to stop the next 48 hours of torture, only look sheepishly when he asked for my phone.

Detectives, scene of crime officers, fingerprinting, questioning, post mortem, identifying my own husband in the morgue……the extreme series of unnecessary consequences from that one simple mistaken word.

As if losing my husband of only 62 days was not tragic enough. Life-shattering.

Words can change lives. 

Words can make lives. 

Words can break lives.

For all of my career, since the age of 18, words have been central to who I am. I love words and using them to share my message but I know all too keenly the power that they can wield.

One wrong word shaped my life. 

That same wrong word gave me a steely determination to push on through. That one wrong word lit a fire inside that has never been extinguished. That one word forced me to face up to my grief very suddenly and I believe also helped me to push on through.

Guard your words carefully and use them knowing the power they hold for others. Whether spoken or written, words are the very foundation upon which we build our lives.