Debra Alexander knows too well the pain of losing a child following her son Cory’s death Christmas Day four years ago.
“Until it happens to you, you don’t know, losing my mom was hard but she was 80 years old and she had a good life but my son was 27 and I never had a chance to see him have grandchildren for me. It’s just not the right order of things,” said Alexander about the death of her only child from an undetected heart condition.
“I know for a fact that his death will affect me for the rest of my life. My husband’s and my mom’s passing will to, but not to the same extent, Cory was a part of me he was in my belly for nine months.”
Grief knows no boundaries or timelines when it comes to the loss of a loved one, especially if that person is a son or daughter according to Sam (Sandra) Lucier, a private counsellor and former chaplain now working at the Penticton Bereavement Resource Centre.
“People die, love does not and relationships don’t ever really end,” said Lucier,” who started the annual Ended Beginnings service four years ago to help those parents. “I think most of us can experience peripheral losses and feel like we’ve got a handle on it and then you lose someone who is part of he fabric of your being and your whole world changes and it changes for good.
“But even as people move through the grief and find some serenity, life never ever returns to the pre-grief state. It will never be the way it was again.”
This year’s observance takes place June 7 at 1 p.m. at the centre’s new location, 129 Nanaimo Ave. West.
“It’s kind of an opportunity for people to sit and be with their memories, think about that child and feel okay about it,” said Lucier. “I feel it kind of provides a public opportunity to participate in honouring that life in a community setting where there’s other people who have experienced a similar loss.
“Some people come out every year. It’s kind of like their Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to tune into the child. I think it’s just a really poignant time for this service because this can be a very difficult time.”
Alexander admitted the first Ended Beginnings she went to — due to the closeness to her son’s death — was difficult, but did give her strength to help cope with her loss and connect with others in similar situations.
“This service brings all the emotions up but it also makes it feel like you’re honouring your child because Cory will always be a part of my life no matter what,” she said. “I’m still a mom even though I don’t have a child anymore.”
Those planning to attend are asked to bring a free-standing candle with holder, pen, paper and an envelope. Pictures of the son or daughter are also welcome.
Participants will not be asked to speak.
Along the same line, the centre, which is a program of the Penticton and District Hospice Society, is presenting a special public video June 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Supporting the Grieving Child is for parents and other caring adults on children’s grief experiences and how to support them.
To register call 250-490-1107. Childcare is available with prior arrangement.