It's a Story Too Painful to Tell, Until Recently

Our son Jonathan died January 28, 2008.  It’s the reason our priorities changed.  The grieving process compels you to evaluate everything.  Your life balance is completely screwed up.  The loss of a child makes no sense.  There is no logic, only intense emotion.

Career change and a major move
We soon realized that we could no longer live in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, so far removed from family.  Our daughter Natalie and her husband Rob are in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.  Terrie’s twin sister is in Vancouver.  Terrie’s younger sister is also in the Okanagan Valley.  My family is in Calgary Alberta and on Vancouver Island.

To accomplish the move meant leaving a great job.  I changed my career and opened a consultancy with a home office, a telephone and an internet connection.

The journey

Grief is a long and winding road.  The twists are often unexpected.  I find Terrie in tears at all hours of the day and night.  The answer to my question is always the same, “just thinking about our baby boy”.  I can be deep into a work project or driving down the street.  Anywhere, anytime, a memory will rush in and take the moment.  It’s a rollercoaster!  Our memories are strong and vivid.  The grief counsellor helped us understand that we are not crazy, that memories are important celebrations of a life lived without regret. Jonathan did more and accomplished more in his 32 years than many people do on this earth for many more. 

For most of the past 3 years we simply referred to Jonathan’s passing as a tragic accident.  If pressed with more questions, our response has been that it is too painful to discuss.  Over the summer, something changed.

The therapy of giving back

I wrote a blog post titled “If you couldn’t play tomorrow, how hard would you play today”.  For the first time I was able to discuss publicly, Jonathan’s accomplishments, his suicide and the questions that remain unanswered.  I’m sure the epiphany was the result of having battled throat cancer last year.  A key component in my determination to defeat the demon has been the belief that I can help someone else.  Those of you who have followed my cancer posts know about my friend Lyle Bauer in Calgary who overcame the same foe.  He said, “Your life has changed and now there will be many who look to you as the “warrior” for counsel and advice.  This is a team not of our choosing.  It however just might be the greatest team of our lives.  Never alone!”   So, I am now officially a mentor within the cancer community, available to help others.

Another thing happened this summer when contacted by a friend who asked if I would be ok discussing the loss of Jonathan with a guy who used to work for us.  Their son died in a drowning accident.  He wasn’t yet 25.  He and his wife were on the phone call.  While I hadn’t seen nor spoken to this guy in years, I was able to share Terrie’s and my experiences with them and hopefully help them in the early days of their grief journey.   

When the time is right, the door always opens to new opportunity

I write to you today in order to let you know that I have been asked to be a guest on a national talk show.  The host is Roy Green.  He is based in Montreal and does a weekend talk show across the Corus Radio Network.  The show is heard from Ontario to BC, on multiple stations.  Roy read my blog about Jonathan and was moved.  He asked me to join him on the radio because he believes that our story could help others.  The circumstances surrounding Jonathan’s suicide are important reminders for parents on so many levels.

My appearance will be at 1:30 PM Pacific Time on Saturday October 1.  It’s called The Roy Green Show, on the Corus Radio Network.  Here is a list of affiliate stations.

CKNW Vancouver
AM1150 Kelowna
CHED Edmonton
QR77 Calgary
CKOM Saskatoon
CJME Regina
CJOB Winnipeg
AM980 London
CHML Hamilton
AM640 Toronto

For those of you who would like to listen but aren’t close to any of these stations, I have provided the links to the various websites above.  They all have streaming audio at the click of a button.  If you have the time, please listen. 1:30 PM Pacific Time, Saturday October 1, I’ll be talking about Jonathan.  
“If you couldn’t play tomorrow, how hard would you play today”