Hoping, Helping & Healing

I am looking forward to volunteering at The Legend Golf Tournament again this July. By the end of the day last year I felt overjoyed at how many people came out to support such an important cause. Volunteering with the Full Circle Foundation for the tournament was an opportunity that came to me at just the right time in my life and I knew it was something I had to do!  The intention behind the tournament is to increase awareness and understanding around mental health and suicide, while raising funds to help support related community programming. The tournament is a chance to reduce stigma,  talk about  some very difficult topics and take the opportunity to say , “It’s ok, to not be ok!”.  It brings me happiness and a sense of purpose to help raise awareness around these important issues; it allows me to be actively involved, and the message speaks right to my heart. Two years ago I lost my Dad to suicide.

For the longest time I was full of guilt. I would think about things I could have done differently. I wondered if I could have done something, anything that would have allowed my Dad to still be with us today. I’ve been working hard to learn more about suicide over the past two years so that I can have a better understanding of what happened, but I know that I did everything I could. Volunteering for  the tournament allows me to find some purpose and some peace in the wake of my Dad’s death. I feel like I am doing my part to help others; raising awareness about mental health,  encouraging others to ask for help. After losing a loved one to suicide, I know that work like this could potentially save a life.

If you notice out of character behaviours or are worried about a loved one, coworker or friend, don’t be afraid to talk to them. Depression and other mental illnesses are just that, an illness. We have to treat it the same as we would a physical illness. It’s ok to talk about it.  There are so many people out there struggling and they might be unaware of whom or where to go to for help. If we all work to reduce the stigma around asking for help, we could support so many people. No one deserves to feel alone.

Being involved with the tournament gives me another way to do some healing of my own, while supporting others.  Somehow it helps just to see people come out to support each other!  Its also a chance to hear stories and meet other people who have had their lives impacted by suicide or mental health issues in their own families. The first year after losing my Dad was so, so hard. If you have ever been through the grieving process, for any reason you know that it isn’t easy.  I had really great days and really bad days. For the first while I found it very hard to be by myself, I did whatever I could to distract myself throughout the day which helped a lot, but once it came to night time I really struggled.  Time went by and I still wasn’t doing any better. I thought nothing would ever feel normal again. A big factor in moving forward and healing came to me by way of a very special event called SOS day.

Every year CMHA hosts an event at the Calgary zoo called Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. November  2016 was my second year attending SOS Day. The first year I attended I was super skeptical about going. It had only been about six months since my Dad’s death. My mind was still all over the place. My life was still all over the place!  I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was absolutely blown away with how many people were there. It was heartbreaking but also heartwarming. By the end of the day I had cried about a hundred times and laughed about a hundred times. The whole experience was honest, raw, eye opening and it gave me hope. I felt SO much comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one going through a situation like that.  I felt relieved hearing and seeing first hand, that eventually I was going to be doing better!

I think events like SOS day are super important. I didn’t know how to even start to cope with my situation. I just happened to come across SOS Day and thankfully I took the opportunity to go. SOS day is place where if you aren’t ready to open up about your experience you can just sit and listen to others;  or if you are ready to open up, its a safe place full of people you can lean on without any judgment at all.

I was so excited to learn that this year, some of the proceeds from the tournament will be going to CMHA to support SOS Day. I hope others who have been thinking about going to SOS day will go for it and those who haven’t heard about it will look into it, learn more and take the opportunity to go. Thats why events like the golf tournament are so important. They open people’s minds and encourage them to learn about mental health. They bring resources and people together and may open the door to new possibilities! Losing a loved one to suicide is a very difficult situation to deal with, but when we have events like the Legend Tournament it brings those of us who have been through it together and puts us alongside people who care and are there to help and support us and I am so thankful for that!

You know that saying “Time heals all wounds.” It definitely does not heal everything, but you know what; it does help to heal.  Today I am in a totally different place and mindset from what I was in two years ago. I am coming to terms with my grief.  I still have bad days but I have great days too! Grief will always be there, it won’t ever go away but eventually it lessens with time and support.  Support is so important and if we are lucky, it comes to us in many different ways.

~Jayna Whitrow

**Registration for The Legend Tournament is now open. Please email [email protected] to request a registration package and register your team.

Related Posts