Honoring the Spirit

by  David Greer  |  Light Your World
Honoring the Spirit

Karalee and I were driving from Sechelt to Gibsons on BC’s sunshine coast to catch the noon ferry back to the mainland. The day before we had celebrated our 34th anniversary and were happy after having had a four-day mini break together away from the busyness of regular life.

My mobile rang this April morning and I answered it on the car speakerphone. It was a reporter from the National Post newspaper. He asked if I heard the news and with a sinking heart I said that we hadn’t. He then told us that our good sailing buddy John Ridsdel had been murdered by beheading by the Abu Sayyaf terrorists who had kidnapped John and four others off the docks of a marina in the Southern Philippines September 21, 2015.

20020821.john.ridsdel02We had no comment for the reporter, as we had promised John’s sister and daughters that we wouldn’t publicly comment on the kidnapping. We knew things were on a knife edge as Abu Sayyaf had issued two deadlines saying they would kill their Canadian hostages if a $6M ransom wasn’t paid. This was the day of the second deadline. The terrorists followed through on their threat and our friend was the one that paid the ultimate price.

Few of us ever experience such brutality and finality of life. Each of us does go through life events, disease, and death of those that we love and are close to. What leadership lessons have I learned from John’s death about how we respond when such events occur?

First, we must look after ourselves. Our reaction to such events are unpredictable. It is truly a time to take it from moment to moment. Sometimes being busy helps us move through the process and sometimes we need to be alone and quiet. Be sensitive and understanding of where you are. Share often and surround yourself with people who are compassionate and supporting about what you are going through.

Second, we need to be there for those impacted by these events. This is especially true where we lead others in business. All too often expectations are that we act as if nothing has happened. When I have had a first report go through a major life event, I check in with them even more, and give them the time off they need to deal with what is going on. You can try and chain a person to a desk, but if their heart and mind is with their loved ones, neither they nor the organization will benefit from them being there.

Last fall, I took a photography workshop on North Carolina’s Outer Banks to stretch my creative edges. This was shortly after John had been kidnapped. I shot the Currituck Beach Lighthouse at dusk calling the shot “Beacon of Hope.” I sent it to John’s sister and daughters for all of us to hang on to as we hoped for John’s release. John is now just a spirit, but each of us has the opportunity to be our own beacon of hope to those we lead at times when they have to deal with a life changing event in their lives. Karalee and I continue to lead by example, as each of us goes through our own grieving process for John, we are there for other and for those of John’s family who are dealing with his loss.

May you honor your spirit and the spirits of those around you who need to deal with life on life’s terms today.


Currituck Beach Lighthouse

John Ridsdel

All photographs © David J. Greer. Permission is given to the Lead Change Group to use these photographs on the Lead Change Group web site and in all promotional media for the Lead Change Group.

How can you honor someone who has gone before you through your leadership and life choices?
Photo Credit: Copyrighted photos used courtesy of and with permission of the author

About The Author

Articles By david-greer
David is the catalyst who gets you to fully live your dreams now. After time with him you feel equally scared and hopeful. Scared at the audacity of your dreams and hopeful because you have someone in your corner with the experience and desire to see your dreams become real.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jane Anderson  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

David, what a devastating event to go through. I can’t think of anything worse than the vicious death of innocent victims. Thank you for sharing your insight on getting through tragedy and helping others get through theirs. If ever there is a time for compassion, this one is unparalleled.

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Jane,

Thank you for your kind words. Part of my process of dealing with the brutality of John’s kidnapping and death is to write about it, finding the insights that let me move forward. I hope that those insights might indeed help others.



Mary C. Schaefer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

David, I’m profoundly moved and barely have words. Thank you for sharing and guiding us in handling the unfathomable. Warmly, Mary

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Mary,

I appreciate you sharing the impact my post had on you.



David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Dear Reader,

My friend John Ridsdel truly believed that woman were equal in our world. To honour John and that belief, his sister and two daughter’s have started a memorial fund to support girl’s education, protection and empowerment around the world. Should you wish to support this initiative, here is the link to the donation page:

Kind regards to all of you reading my post.



Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you for adding that, David.

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  | 

Thank you Paula for the platform to raise awareness about John’s memorial fund. David

Carrie Koens  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

David – wise words. In these kinds of situations, there often are no “right” words to say. It’s shocking and sad, it’s horrifying and stunning… but you have done a wonderful job honoring your friend.

As someone who has lost friends – tragically – in the aviation world, I know that feeling of sitting at a desk while my head and heart are elsewhere. May you find comfort in your grief through your writing and the encouragement and prayers of those around you.

All the best,

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Carrie,

Thank you for your open heart and sharing in our time of grief. I can understand how your connection with the aviation world, especially in far way places, gives you a unique perspective to understand this. All we can do is share and learn as we grow through each of these experiences.



Margy KJ  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply


What a horrible story and touching tribute to a good friend who was taken so brutally. Living in Jerusalem, I am all too aware of the shock and devastation such events bring. I really admire you for finding a way to write about this that is both sobering and uplifting. It takes a true leader to be able to extract meaning from so much pain and to use that meaning to inspire others. We are so grateful to have you as an integral part of the Lead Change community.


David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Margy,

Yes, horrible. Much of the world sees this level of brutality every day. Especially in your part of the world. It reminds me both that our DNA is still hard-wired for violence and that I am thankful to live in Canada where our culture overcomes our DNA the vast majority of the time.


Joseph Lalonde  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

David, my heart breaks hearing this news. For you, for his family, and for those that knew him.

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you for your kind words Joseph. John touched an enormous number of people–it is hard to grasp just how many, but his sister has been telling us just how many people have been reaching out to her in memory of John. We are all hanging together supporting each other in this time of grief. I appreciate you acknowledging that in your response. David

Karen @BakingInATornado  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Such a devastating loss. We all know we will lose people in our lives and, as hard as those losses are, they are inevitable. This kind of savage, heartless cruelty though, carries an added burden. We just cannot make sense of it in our rational minds.

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you Karen. A big challenge for me is in realizing that most of the word is not “rational” at least in comparison to how we live in Canada, the US, and much of the Western world. It doesn’t make sense from that point of view, but from the terrorists point of view it must make sense, because they keep kidnapping and killing people. Which makes me very sad.



Eileen McDargh  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

I cannot even begin to imagine the terror of hearing about the news last September, the vigil or hope all kept, the devastation of the news AND the courage to write this. What also struck me the amazing resilient nature of his sister and two daughters to find some ray of support by starting a fund in his name to educate and empower girls.

When one could so easily sink down in hatred and weeping, they (and you) have risen above. Blessings on all.

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Eileen,

There are days of more sinking than rising. What are you going to do? Pick yourself up and continue on is what we choose. I know that is what John would want us to do. I keep sharing about my experiences as both my way of dealing with my grief over the loss of John and as my way of shining a light on his extraordinary life.

I still can’t believe that I’m never going to get to sail together with John again.


1010ParkPlace  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

What an amazing tribute to your friends, and it speaks volumes about you. I hope the brutality of John and his family and friends’ ordeal brings someone else the strength to move forward with the unexpected horrors life puts in our laps.
Blessings to all of you,
Brenda Coffee

David Greer  |  11 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi Brenda,

Thank you for your kind words. You are right that we never know when horror will strike in our world. We can only hope that we will have the resiliency and the support we need to get through it.



John E. Smith  |  12 May 2016  |  Reply


Just now seeing this news. I cannot add to what others have already said. I can only offer prayers for healing, wholeness, and strength.


David Greer  |  12 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you for sharing your strength John.

Wendy  |  07 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Thanks for this David, for all of us, and for you. Healing and inspiring words. xoxo

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