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Six Weeks

Dear Mom,

Six weeks.

Six weeks have passed, since you took your last breath. The time continues to tick by, and life moves forward. The grief has softened, but it never leaves. Instead, it lies in wait, somewhere deep inside of me, until the trigger appears. It can be as simple as a song, a word, a smell … a thought, and the overwhelming emotion bubbles up and out in waves. It washes over me, reminding me that this is real.

You’re gone.

There are no words to describe how much I miss you. How desperately I long to call you and hear your sing-song greeting when you picked up. I used to tease you about that … it was something you’d picked up from years of working in customer service. I don’t think I ever told you that it was often the highlight of my day.

I hope, more than anything, that you are happy. I hope that you are free from your pain and suffering, and that you can still feel our love for you.

You are so deeply loved.

Happy Family Day, Mom. It’s not the same without you.

A Month

I can hardly believe that it’s been a month already. I’ve been quiet in this time, processing, grieving and picking up the pieces of my broken heart. As many of my friends and loved ones have said, there are no words when it comes to losing your mother. I was so blessed to have a mom who was so full of kindness, love and compassion for the world — someone so full of love that her loss leaves a huge gap in my life.

My sister, Cassandra, wrote this beautiful poem in honour of our mother.

Saying Goodbye

To our friends, family and supporters:

Thank you for being with us on this journey. Your love, support and words of encouragement have been a light in the face of darkness. You have continued to remind us that even though it may feel lonesome, none of us are ever alone … there is love surrounding us at all times.

Yesterday (January 6, 2018), in the quiet hours of the morning, mom took her final breath and passed away. She was at home, where she wanted to be, and she was ready to be at peace.

Each of us is a better person for having known and loved her. She will be deeply missed, every single day. Thank you for surrounding our family with your love and support during this difficult time.

With love,

The Reich Family

Loved forever.

Gratitude

Our family was fortunate to create memories of one final adventure, on Christmas Eve. With the support of an incredible team from Skyward Balloons and a host of generous souls, we took mom for a hot air balloon ride over Hanover. (Pictures will be added as soon as I figure out how to do that on my phone).

Mom’s final flight was made possible by the kindness of others, through a GoFundMe page. I have shared the following message there, and wanted to share it with you as well. Thank you for being with us through this experience.

To our friends, family and supporters:

On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all so much for the warm thoughts, generosity and kindness that you have shown to our family. You have reminded us that we are not alone in this journey, and that the love of others is real and present in our lives.

Mom had wanted to record a thank you video that we could upload here for you, but she has declined rapidly in recent days and there just wasn’t time. Please know how much you are loved and appreciated by all of us. There aren’t enough words to express our gratitude to you.

The past four years – and the last two in particular – have been a challenge for all of us. A cancer diagnosis, while centered on just one person, has a devastating impact on the entire family as well as those close by. The ripples are felt far and wide as cancer takes its hold and begins to squeeze.

Our mother has battled fiercely and given her all to live, and her death is neither fair nor logical. She has been courageous in the face of multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation and a plethora of pharmaceuticals, supplements and side effects. She is far too young to go, and yet it’s only a matter of (very little) time. Her passing will leave a massive gap in our lives and a permanent scar on our hearts … but it will also bring peace and an end to her suffering. For that, we are grateful.

Thank you again for your love and support; you have helped us to create memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

With love,

Pam, Rick, Candice, Cassie and Chelsey  

 

Love and loss

Trigger warning: death and grief ahead

It breaks my heart to write this, and yet the catharsis of putting the words into the universe is too much to resist. Holding them in will do nothing to prevent them from becoming real. It will only continue to eat at me, draining whatever reserves I have left.

We’re losing my mom.

Mom … the heart of our family. The person I would call every day, if for no other reason than to hear her voice. The one who’s always in my corner, my voice of reason when life feels like too much to take. These days, it often feels like too much to take.

She’s dying.

There’s no alternative, and there’s not much time. None of us can say this is a surprise, having watched this disease slowly stealing her away. Still, we can all say that it’s coming far too soon. She’s only 54 … far too young for this to be real.

How can this be real?

How does the world keep going without her?

How do I?

The doctor is kind, compassionate and very clear. The words float around, whirling through my mind. “Comfort measures … pain management … DNR”.

I’m filled with questions, as my anxious tendencies take over. The tears are silent by this point. I’m resigned to their flowing freely, because grief has a way of showing up whenever it feels like it.

How do I explain this to my kids? How do I make sure they remember her and the love she has for them, when they’re losing her at such a young age?

How do I help them to grieve, when I’m so lost in my own heartbreak?

There are blessings that come with this kind of death. We can talk about it, and ask what mom wants after she’s gone.

“Just throw me a party” she says.

She doesn’t want any receiving lines, no funeral services … just good food, happy memories and lots and lots of love.

A party it is. Anything for you, mom.

The Power of Connection

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a professional development event, featuring four inspiring women. Put on by The Maven Project – an organization offering personal and professional wellness workshops in Huron County – the event was an opportunity for learning, growth and networking.

And … it was awesome.

I was lucky enough to connect with individuals and organizations who, like me, are advocating for mental health, education and support for people struggling in our communities. Kendra Fisher, Canadian hockey player and mental health advocate, was inspiring. There was hardly a dry eye in the room as she told her story of perseverance.

As well, I had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon from
Mentally Fit, an advocacy group out of Wingham, Ontario. The wonderful thing about connecting with like minds, is that bigger things can grow out of your combined efforts.

And so, that is where my efforts will be for the next little while. Stay tuned for announcements about more great events in Huron, Perth and surrounding communities!

With love and light,

Candice

World Mental Health Day

Happy World Mental Health Day. Let’s keep working to #endthestigma and create a more loving world.

In honour of celebrating mental health awareness, advocacy and education, I’ve decided to offer an opportunity to create positive energy and good karma. I’m favour of keeping it simple, I’ve called it the Pay It Forward ticket. Anyone can purchase one, and we’ll offer it to someone who really wants to attend our next #mentalhealth event, but could use a free ticket.

It feels like a good way to give something back. I’m offering the first PIC ticket on my Facebook page right now.

See you in a few weeks!

Candice

Why We’re Here

Welcome. Thank you for being here and learning more about what we do.

This site is about Community Wellness. We work with individuals, families, organizations and the community as a whole, to encourage wellness in all areas of life. Right now, we are focusing heavily on the concept of “mental health” and “mental wellness” — partly because it’s often hidden, and partly because we simply don’t talk about it enough.

Shrouded by stigma, we often avoid the subject of mental health and mental wellness. Yet, it affects every single one of us. Can you honestly say that you don’t know a single person struggling with a mental health issue? If your answer to that question is “yes”, my guess is you may simply be unaware of what the people in your life are dealing with. The statistics are alarming,

We want to raise awareness, and we’re doing this by creating and hosting community events to get the conversation going. We also want to raise funds, so that we can run more events and bring more mental health education and empowerment into our community. We want to help other organizations to further their goals, and we want to partner up with like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations to help lift one another up.

Want to get involved? That’s great! We have many ways that you can do so … the first being by helping us to spread the word about what we’re doing. If you’re on Facebook, head over there and like our page, share an event or leave a comment. Your connection might just be what someone else needs to keep going.

Sending out love and light,

Candice