Every day, Wendy looked forward to the 9 pm phone call from her son Collin. They would talk about their days and what was going on in their lives. Collin was excited to share his plans for an upcoming camping trip. July 29 was the last phone conversation Wendy had with her son. That was the last time she heard the words “I love you mom”. Collin died from an accidental overdose. He was 29.
When Collin died, Wendy began to spiral out of control. People she thought she could count on were making hurtful remarks, blaming Collin for his choice to use substances and therefore faulted him for his death.
“It was so painful to hear repeatedly,” says Wendy.
She felt the stigma and the prejudice from so many people around her. She was tired of having to stand up for her son and defend him. She needed support so she could grieve his death.
It changed my life
Wendy received professional counselling but felt she was missing the connective piece she needed. Then online she found Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR). She made the call.
“When I talked to Carly, and then later met with her, I finally got to exhale, and my shoulders relaxed. She never pushed me into any program but instead she showed me what I could do, and it changed my life. She helped me to get onto the right path.”
No longer the only one whose child died
Wendy registered for BFO-MR’s peer support program for parents grieving the death of a child. It had taken her a lot of strength just to drive herself to the group. She was anxious and nervous. However, when she first entered into the room, and looked around, she says, “I was no longer the only one whose child died. Everyone in the room has lost a child. I felt connected.”
Although everyone’s story had different circumstances, they were all still connected. The feeling of helplessness was lifting, and she no longer felt isolated and alone. “It felt like a family where we can talk openly without judgement, and it give me purpose in my life again.”
Ok to be happy
Wendy felt so much guilt around Collin’s death, thinking she “could of, should of” done more. The facilitators empathized with her and helped her to realize that these emotions and feelings were completely normal. The facilitators also helped her to realize that “it is ok to be happy” again and it doesn’t mean that she is over Collin – she is just moving forward with him. Even though there are still tough days, and she describes herself as living minute-by-minute, Wendy now has more good days and she can now smile again.
Group changed my life
Wendy recognizes that life is short, and not to be taken for granted. She knows there is no room for judgement and stigma. She has new friends from the group who share a special bond. And she knows Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region gave her the support that made her stronger. “Group changed my life, it saved me!”
When you donate to our annual campaign Loved Ones Remembered, you are supporting moms in our community, just like Wendy.