Bill’s Story

Recently during a busy time, moving from one residence to another, Bill unintentionally missed a Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR) event that he had been planning to attend. But like family does, someone from the organization called just to check in to see how he was doing.

“That’s exactly what it’s like,” Bill reflected, “it’s like family.”.

Bill’s relationship with the BFO-MR family began decades ago after he and his wife Lee stood across the threshold of their front door from two officers who informed them their 19-year-old son Ryan had been in a car accident and that he had not survived.

“Lee crumpled, almost to the floor, but I caught her,” says Bill, the words catching in his throat and his eyes glistening with tears as that moment came back to him as if it had just happened. He knew right then that nothing would ever be the same again. The weeks and months that followed saw Bill and Lee simply supporting each other just to make it through another day.

“I completely lost all of my self-confidence,” Bill says. “And I was no longer able to do the life’s work that used to bring me meaning and purpose.”

After a year of this dark reality, where grief affected his ability to do his job, Bill took an early exit package and soon after, he and Lee began meeting with a counsellor to learn how to live with the devastating impact of their loss.

After a number of months working one-on-one with their counsellor, she introduced Bill and Lee to the BFO-MR program for parents grieving the death of a child. That was their first experience  working within a group dynamic.

“When Lee died 15 years after Ryan’s death, a whole new level of grief visited and I was almost incapacitated by the loss,” says Bill. “Some days, it was too challenging to just get going. I remember days when I would lay down on the floor and fall asleep there, with my cat curled up next to me, because that’s all I could manage in that moment.”

Bill became aware of and joined the Cambridge Living with Loss group. He quickly knew he had found his “tribe”. A trained facilitator led the group, but each of the participants was strongly encouraged to share their story, talk about what they had been learning, and to comment on the impact of grief in their lives. While sharing his story and insights about his own experience, Bill noticed that his self-confidence began to grow and a sense of purpose that had once been lost became very present again.

With this new heartbreaking loss, Bill was grateful for the ongoing support of BFO-MR’s Cambridge Living with Loss group – a group that has surrounded him with love and understanding. Every person at BFO-MR—volunteer, member, or facilitator—has experienced a loss so they understand what he’s going through and can give him the space to share and to learn from others, he says.

Now, with a new life partner, a renewed sense of self-confidence, and a passion for walking with others on their journeys, Bill finds a deeper level of meaning and purpose through the Living with Loss group as a trained facilitator. He can’t imagine his life without the connection to others who grieve, he says.