Empty space, empty place, empty time
These are the words that echo in Barbara’s life after her 29-year-old son died of an accidental overdose in 2017. That year everything changed forever. She describes that an emptiness in her heart, in her home and in her life now that her son is gone.
Barbara was overwhelmed with grief and didn’t see how or if she was going to get through this incredibly painful tragedy. It had been recommended she go to counseling, but she wasn’t the type of person to “open up” and share her feelings. She had already felt some judgement from a few people around her. When Barbara ran into a friend who knew about her son’s death, she suggested Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR) might be able to help.
Feeling freedom to let go
Barbara started attending BFO-MR’s Living with Loss group for adults grieving a death by substance use. Going to group has given Barbara the element of acceptance when sharing her story, and she can do so without judgment.
“I am feeling free to let go and share as there is openness, understanding and encouragement from everyone that has allowed me to be open and vulnerable.”
During group discussions, Barbara talks about the life of her son, and the loving soul he was, not just his death. She is given a safe space to honour and remember who he was as a person, not just the choice he made that cost him his life.
“I get to remember the 29 years of blessings with my son.”
Both facilitators and group members alike have brought a calmness to the chaos of Barbara’s life. When she opens up and shares, she can feel them listening.
“It is heartfelt listening- not pity, but truly empathetic listening and understanding from those who have experienced this kind of loss. This has comforted me and has helped me to work through my grief and work towards healing.”
At group Barbara knows that she is not alone. There is no shame or embarrassment. Hearing the stories of other members have allowed Barbara to not only receive empathy but to give empathy.
“I have learned to let go and allow myself to shed tears in public and know it’s ok. I still have bad days, but I feel now I am moving forward in my grief journey. “