It’s time to give back, to pay it forward

The phone call came from our son’s boss at 8:59 a.m. on Wednesday, September 3, 2003, the phone call
that nobody wants to receive. Our 23 year old son, John, had been injured at work in Detroit and we
were to get our family to the hospital asap. I called and talked to a nurse, and although she hadn’t told
me John was dead, my gut told me that he was.

The feelings of denial, of being alone, of numbness and the question “why us”, “why our son”,
“why John”, began to set in and our family doctor referred us to a social worker who specialized in
bereavement. Approximately six months later, although she would continue to work with our family, she
suggested my husband and I contact Bereaved Families of Ontario Midwestern Region to join their child
loss group.

Connecting with other parents whose child had died and being educated about grief by the two
facilitators who had also been bereaved a few years earlier helped us so much. We weren’t alone.
Others had suffered similar losses. We weren’t going crazy!

When I look back to those days or see other recently bereaved individuals it makes me realize how far
our family has come along the journey of grief. It has made me consciously think about “being present”
when others are talking. It has changed what I value in life.

Now, almost ten years after John’s death, it is time to give back, to pay it forward, to try to help others
along their journey of grief.

Marj Deyell