A meeting of Moms Stop The Harm members in Kelowna. Each white cross represents a life lost. The group hosts an event in Kelowna Aug. 31 for International Day of Overdose Awareness. (Nicole Richard - Wax Pencil Imagery)

A meeting of Moms Stop The Harm members in Kelowna. Each white cross represents a life lost. The group hosts an event in Kelowna Aug. 31 for International Day of Overdose Awareness. (Nicole Richard - Wax Pencil Imagery)

Overdoses and suicides among teens concern Okanagan parents

‘I’ve never seen anything like this in the last 16 years’: The Compassionate Friends

B.C.’s opioid crisis continues to claim lives at an unheard of rate, leaving more parents devastated by the loss of their children.

The Compassionate Friends, an international group offering friendship, understanding, grief education and hope to bereaved parents, is seeing record numbers of people dying, not just from overdose, but suicide, and predominantly teenager.

“In the last 18 months, those two are the most prevalent,” TCF Vernon’s Kelli Rose said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in the last 16 years.”

For some, when life becomes to much to bear they take their lives in various forms. For others, turning to drugs is the only thing to ease the pain, the the threat of overdose is more like a dream. Both a sad reality that leaves loved ones shattered.

“I have no words to describe what is going on out there,” said Rose, whose own daughter was 27 when she died, while she is seeing much younger ages, as young at 16.

International Day of Overdose Awareness is Aug. 31 and Moms Stop The Harm is hosting an event in Kerry Park in Kelowna at 7 p.m. with speakers, debut of an anti-stigma video and candlelight vigil.

“This is an important event as the opioid crisis continues to steal the lives of six people a day in British Columbia,” said Helen Jennens, with Moms Stop The Harm.

READ MORE: Purple ribbons put spotlight on opioid crisis grief, as B.C. families plea for more support

READ MORE: RCMP combatting drug overdoses in Vernon

But thanks to TCF, there is help for grieving parents.

The Vernon chapter annually hosts a long weekend retreat, which takes place Sept. 16-19 this year at Whatshan Lake.

Called, A Time For You: Living with Loss, Rediscovering Joy, the event offers time to leave behind the business of everyday lives and enter a relaxed, safe haven to address grief and bond with other parents.

“You can choose to share thoughts, attend various scheduled activities or just chill out and breathe,” TCF Vernon said.

The retreat is low-key, with no pressure to attend the various scheduled activities.

“The weekend is yours to use however you need to take care of yourself in a nurturing environment. You will be with other parents who are travelling the same journey and understand.”

Those interested can contact Kelli at 250-308-8489 or TCFVernon@hotmail.com, or Darlene at 250-558-5026 or Vernon@TCFCanada.net. Registration to the retreat is needed as soon as possible.

TCF is the only organization that specifically deals with the death of a child at any age, from any cause, at any time.

Friends meet on the last Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. at The People Place, 3402 27th Ave. Anyone who has lost a child, at any time, is encouraged to connect.

“A lot of parents are being reclusive and not reaching out,” Rose said.

READ MORE: Why bereavement support groups are essential

READ MORE: Vernon grief retreat renews hope


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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