COVID-19 SUPPLEMENT – Greystone Village couple working to support those who have lost loved ones

Elaine Dean

In 2016 my husband, Sean and I moved to Greystone Village. We were thrilled to move back close to Lady Evelyn Public School, which is where my two boys went to elementary school. We love our new home and have made some good friends here.

In December 2013, my son Christopher was supposed to have come home for Christmas, but he never made it. The day before he was hit by a car while crossing the street. He was a second-year architect student at the University of Waterloo in Cambridge. He had just turned 20. We spent that Christmas and New Year’s in Hamilton, fighting for his life, a fight that we lost on January 7, 2014.

Elaine Dean and her husband, Sean, pictured here, are recently moved to Greystone Village, from where they have been running video conferencing webinars and support groups on behalf of Bereaved Families of Ontario – Ottawa Region. Supplied Photo

Elaine Dean and her husband, Sean, pictured here, are recently moved to Greystone Village, from where they have been running video conferencing webinars and support groups on behalf of Bereaved Families of Ontario – Ottawa Region. Supplied Photo

I will always feel the pain of losing my beautiful son. I was devastated and my whole world was turned upside down. I know now that I will never be the same. Nor would I want to be. I’ve learned to take things one step at a time and to forgive more. As time goes on, the pain lessens. But the love that I have for my son always shines through. He will always be part of me and will always be in my thoughts and in my heart.

It is because of the love I have for my son that I became involved in Bereaved Families of Ontario – Ottawa Region (BFO Ottawa). Sean and I participated in one of their closed groups, led by trained facilitators who have lost children of their own. Over 10 weeks, we met with the same group of parents, to work through different aspects of our grief. I can’t tell you how much this helped me during the most difficult time of my life. The parents who were in the same closed group have become good friends of ours, because we share such a close connection to each other.

Sean and I both chose to become volunteers with BFO Ottawa in memory of Christopher. We have become part of a small, local charity that is committed to helping others deal with their own grief. When our government asked us to all stay home because of COVID-19, we did so. For BFO Ottawa, that meant that people who are grieving could no longer come out to our peer support groups. I know firsthand how hard it was for me when I first lost my son. Now, people experiencing grief bear the added burden of having to stay at home, in isolation, and alone. Some of them can’t even celebrate the lives of their loved ones the way they would like to.

Sean and I worked with Board members and staff to offer our support, and to share programs weekly using Zoom video conferencing. More than 40 people joined our first monthly webinar in April, about grief during a pandemic. We are also running weekly support groups for many different types of losses.

Every year at Beechwood, Canada’s national cemetery, we hold our Butterfly Memorial Event. Last year more than 250 people came to the ceremony to remember their loved ones, and then released their live butterflies in the botanical gardens. On July 12, 2020 we will hold our 9th Annual Butterfly Memorial Event again at Beechwood, however, this time we will broadcast it live, knowing that this is the best way for us to gather as a community to remember our loved ones at this time.

I wish that people didn’t have to experience grief, but if they do, I know that it is better if they stay connected to the people around them. When I think of my son Chris, there will always be both sadness and happiness at the same time. Sadness because he is no longer here with us living his life, happiness because I love him so much and I will always be so proud of him. I know that what I’ve experienced is not something that anyone else should have to go through. But if they do, I hope that in some way I can help.

To sign up for Bereaved Families of Ontario – Ottawa’s support and share programs or this year’s Butterfly Memorial Event, visit bfo-ottawa.org or @bfo.ottawa on Facebook.

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