Category Archives: Grief

Have you been impacted by suicide? Please watch this music video: “Arizona (I miss you most)” by Brian Byrne

So many lives have been impacted by loss due to suicide. In this video Brian Byrne captures a number of real individuals who have lost loved ones to suicide. It’s hard to get through this video without crying. In fact, I haven’t been able to yet. But regardless, it is beautiful, heart felt, and reminds me I am in a community of individuals who have suffered tremendous loss and we are somehow connected through it.

One of those individuals is Tana Nash, the Director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council. You can see her in the video at mark 2:18. I have had the privilege of speaking with Tana at the University of Laurier on two occasions. She is an incredible individual, and I’m so proud to be partnered with her for suicide prevention.

For anyone thinking of suicide, I know it can seem like no one will miss you if you’re gone. They will. Don’t underestimate the impact every life has on another. There is someone out there, someone you might not even realize, who will miss you most. So, stay. Stay with us. Because we want to enjoy your company. We want to hear you laugh one more time. We want to hold you as you cry. We want you to know that sometimes we feel broken too. We feel like a burden. Sometimes we lose sight of the light. But there is a way to find it again: together. So, stay.

Please click here to visit the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council website for resources.

With gratitude to Brian Byrne for making this song public. You’ve touched our hearts. Thank you.

 

Shawna Percy

Please visit ShawnaPercy.com for more info

ShawnaPercy.com is LIVE!

It’s official! ShawnaPercy.com is now live!

What’s the difference between ShawnaPercy.com and Good Grief Guru? Good Grief Guru is an important blog resource focused on grief and resiliency. It includes raw article snapshots of my journey through grief and recovery, important resources for widow(er)s and those at risk for suicide, my Happy Thought collection, and more.

ShawnaPercy.com is focused on my journey as an author. It includes information on my book, Breathe, a list of book signing events, speaking engagements, and a store. It’s also a reflection that, although our grief journeys are an important part of who we are, they are not all that we become. Our lives can be more than the events we’ve lived through and the losses we’ve endured. Our lives can continue to be full of gain, new insights, rich experiences, and the passing on of the legacies we’ve created through the hardships we have survived.

Good Grief Guru will always have its place. It may no longer take up my focus every day, but that is how it should be. At the same time, there is gold within its borders and I wouldn’t trade that treasure for anything. The experiences I’ve encountered I will call upon when needed. Nothing need become ashes unless we let the fire die.

Shawna Percy

 

Thank you for continuing to journey with me. I hope you enjoy your tour of ShawnaPercy.com

 

 

Suicide Symposium – Feb. 19th, Vaughan, FREE! (seating is limited)

 

Suicide Symposium – “Helping our heroes and their families”

What: Panel of Peers and opportunity to connect with support networks in mental health crisis and suicide intervention for CAF Members, Veterans and their families.

Who is this for?: Open to the public (Military, First Responders, Police, Mental Health Professionals and their Families.)

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 19th, 2014

Time: 6 – 9pm

Location: Hilton Garden Inn, Toronto, Vaughan

Address: 3201 Hwy 7 W., Vaughan, ON, L4K 5Z7

RSVP to register: (416) 633-6200 x2666, Maryam.Ebrahimpour@forces.gc.ca

Cost: Free

Spaces are limited!

 

Speaking Engagements and Book Signings

We’re heading into a busy time of year and conversations are igniting!

Click here to find out where I’ll be speaking next, and be sure to check in on the Book Signing page to find out when book signing events may be happening near you.

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I’m passionate about sharing my story and strongly believe that talking is often the first step to healing and finding release from trauma.

If you’d like to invite me to share a compelling story of hope, transparency, and awareness, or to arrange for a book signing event, please click here to contact me.

Talking Today ~ Changes Tomorrow. Let’s keep the conversation going.

The official launch date of my book, Breathe, is coming soon…

It’s been a long time coming but the time is nearly here when my published book, Breathe: a true story about marriage, faith, and attempted suicide, will officially be released.

When, you ask? March 11th, 2014 is the official launch date. That’s when Breathe will finally be available on-line and start to appear in book stores.

Stay tuned for more details, and in the meantime if you want to learn more about Breathe click here to read the synopsis.

 

Breathe high rez file

 

Life 2+ years later

I haven’t done a lot of writing over the summer. The truth is writing became my medication for a year. I took a healthy dose every single day. I opened my wounds, I poured the salve in and allowed the healing to begin. Then, one day, I realized I had little left to say.

Looking back I feel really good about how I approached my grief journey. I own every aspect of it. I’m satisfied with the steps I took to disinfect these wounds and heal my open sores. Like all deep cuts there are of course scars, but these scars are part of my character and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’ve made me who I’ve become; a richer, deeper, advocating version of myself. I’ve become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve had the courage to rely on community to help me through, and community has used my experience to understand how to help others like me. Everything, it seems, has somehow been stitched together to make a beautiful tapestry of woven tales, of golden threads and rusted contrasting colours, and I’m glad this tapestry is mine. I’m glad for every strand another has contributed to making this living art-form what it’s become today; a blanket that envelops me and hugs the richness of who I’ve become.

Will I still be involved in suicide prevention advocacy and sharing my story? Of course I will. It is one of my many passions and I truly believe it is life saving work. I also want people to know there is life after suicidal tragedies, and my passions are diverse.

What can life after trauma look like? It can look hopeful, happy, complex and character-building. It can be filled with opportunities to connect with others in a way that was never possible before. It’s reforming. It can cup the dreams of once-upon-a-time, of love, and childhood fantasies. It looks like my daughter’s first day of school and the beginnings of other new chapters. It looks like themed parties and Kimono BBQs. Moments of contemplative solitude, learning the violin and ukelele, attending rallies and adding my voice to causes that are close to my heart. Swinging from dangling tree hammock chairs in the hot summer breeze. Discovering Lindsey Stirling. Meeting David Usher from Moist. Having a house concert at The Healing Place with Me & The Mrs. Commander Hadfield dropping back down to earth from space, but not before my new niece trumped his entry with her birth. New life was born and new friendships formed.

 

Paul & Heather Zacharias from Me & The Mrs

 

David Usher (Moist) and Shawna MacDonald

 

IMG_1697Shawna and her new niece

 

IMG_1286Shawna’s ukelele (nothing quite beats playing happy songs on a ukelele on the cottage dock overlooking the lake.)

 

 

 

In addition to suicide prevention here are some other causes, and special moments, that have been filling my days and contributing to a fascinating summer:

ALEXIS’ FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

As I was preparing for Alexis’ first day of school I was taken aback by how much I didn’t know about her life during the day. What did she eat for lunch? How much did she eat? What should I pack? Will she know she’s loved in those little moments when she hesitates to walk into the unknown?

To all you stay-at-home-moms out there, thank you for all you give your children. For the stay-at-home-moms and child care providers who open their homes up to our children to become secondary homes to them, thank you for all you have given my child. For every parent who doesn’t have the choice but to work instead of staying home with their child, thank you for pressing on, for having the courage to place your children in the capable hands of others whose hearts are large enough to love them as though they were their own.

We enter a new day. It’s a good day. It’s a big day. It’s a day to take stock.

 

DON’T DRIVE DROWSY:

Last night, while driving to Toronto from Stoney Creek, a 20 year old girl fell asleep at the wheel just before her exit for home. I heard a strange noise that alerted me just seconds before she crossed in front of us. She must have hit the guardrail on the right hand side of the highway because something caused her SUV to turn and cut across all lanes of traffic (including right in front of our car) before crashing into the guardrail on the opposite side of the highway. I’ve heard before that most accidents happen close to home. People become lax. They think they’re not that far away from their destination so there’s no point in stopping. There is a point. When you are the speeding bullet shooting sideways across multiple lanes of high speed traffic, there is a point. When your life and others are put in serious danger because of a stamina miscalculation on your part, there is a point. And this is not the first time I’ve seen a car drive off a highway because the driver fell asleep. The first time was in broad daylight not too long after lunch, which is apparently another high risk time for dopey driving. It is an absolute miracle that 20 year old girl walked away from her totaled car. It is an absolute miracle she did not hit, nor was hit, by the busy traffic barreling down the 401. And, I believe it is a miracle I was driving at just the right speed that I, and my daughter who was sleeping soundly in the back seat, weren’t caught in her cross fire. Please, for the sake of your life and others, DON’T DRIVE DROWSY!

 

HOW TO CREATE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

With knowledge comes responsibility…choices. Once I have information I need to choose what to do with it. Ignore it, share it, live it. Here’s something that encourages me to share and live what I’ve learned despite the Goliath-sized obstacles that sometimes intimidate my reasoning.

For over 10 years I’ve worked in the coffee industry. It’s a volatile industry. It can make people rich. It can make people poor. At one point thirsty consumerism fed poverty, war, and intellectual famine. But at some point someone cared. Someone started asking “Where does my coffee come from? Who grows it? What’s their name? How big is their family? Do their kids go to school? Why not? What does it mean to the health of the farmer when they use pesticides to protect crops instead of the more expensive methods of organic farming?”

Someone started asking questions and perhaps thought, “I’m just one person. Maybe I can’t make a big difference, but a little difference for the better is a start.” And they adjusted their spending. They shared information with others. They traveled to other parts of the world to connect. They discovered the coffee farmers’ names, circumstances, cultural quirks and endearing personalities. They discovered they were real people and they mattered.

Someone started asking questions, tweaked a few habits, and today there is a whole socially responsible certified or fairly traded coffee industry and movement. I LOVE being a part of it. Today, we can look back and see we were never meant to solve the whole problem on our own. We were meant to make ourselves aware, make minor adjustments, and our change in behaviour inspired others to think perhaps they could think that way too. At one point demand grew so high for certified coffees the farmers couldn’t keep up. Today, companies are in a race to see who can be fully fair trade certified first!

My point is this. Our present reality is volatile. Pick a subject. There are a lot of shadows creeping over the coloured canvasses of our lives. Don’t be discouraged. Ask some questions. Share information. Make minor changes to your lifestyle. Love. It’s tried, tested, and true: Significant social and environmental change can be born out of simple acts of caring.

 

NOTES ON BEING AWESOME!

I’m going to live my life and make decisions that I will own, and I am going to choose to be AWESOME! (and on the days I’m not I’m going to choose to remember self-forgiveness.) Today though, AWESOME!

 

MOVING FORWARD, NOT MOVING ON

It’s our last night at Basswood (our old house.) Thank God moving forward is not the same thing as moving on. Thank God I can carry these people, this community of neighbours, these memories with me. All the good that has happened in this house, bringing sweet Alexis home from the hospital, watching neighbourhood kids play in the crooked play house in the backyard, backyard BBQs, hang outs, street hockey, trails. Thank you to everyone who make us rich so we could spend this wealth on others and give back to you. With love, Shawna & Alexis

 

 

 

SAVE THE DATE! World Suicide Prevention Day: September 10th

September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day

WSPD_WebBanner_Page

Events will be taking place in countries across the globe. For those close to home (Waterloo Region) here are the details of what’s happening in our neck of the woods. This event is open to anyone who wants to equip themselves with resources to help themselves or others. Knowing the statistic that 1 in 7 Canadians has seriously considered suicide (The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention,) I believe this is in important endeavour.

Guest speaker

The festivities will kick off with special guest speaker, Executive Director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, Tana Nash.

Come hungry for knowledge. Come hungry for food.

In addition to resources there will also be free food thanks to M&M meats. Thank you for your generous support of this important cause M&M.

Butterfly release

And that’s not all. A butterfly release is scheduled for 6pm. I attended my first release last year. It was a moving expression of life’s fragility and wonder.

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THE FULL DETAILS:

WSPD Poster CAMB Final

Where I’ll be:

I plan to be at the Kitchener City Hall for the Butterfly Release ceremonies and other events from 4:30 – 7:00pm.  Please come, check out some events, pick up some resources (they could save a life!) and if you see me say “Hi.” 🙂

World Suisice Prevention day Butterfly promo poster 2013 FINAL

This little light of mine:

Whether you can join an event, or not, you can still participate by lighting a candle (or using a battery operated one) and joining others around the world as we bring a warm glow to the dark night by shining our lights in our windows at 8pm.

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The official Ignite Waterloo IW11 talks have now been posted!

Many of you have waited a long time for this. I’m thrilled to announce that Ignite Waterloo has just posted the official videos for the line up of speakers that gave talks at The Breithaupt Block IW11 in February.

The format of these talks was 5 minutes, 20 slides – “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” as their tag line reads.

I’ve posted my video below, followed by some of my favourite talks from the night. I hope you enjoy!

He died by…(Speaker: Shawna Percy-MacDonald, Genre: Touching, Educational)

 

Censorship (or not) in the “Golden” Age of Hollywood (Speaker: Mary-Catherine McNinch-Pazzano, Genre: Thought Provoking, Historical)

 

 Unsilenced (Speaker: Kim Lester, Genre: Touching, Thought Provoking)

 

The Moment You Grow Up (Speaker: Gillian Autton, Genre: Touching, Personal)

 

How Beer Formed The Modern World (Speaker: Jay Burnett, Genre: Down Right Funny!)

TO BOOK SHAWNA PERCY MACDONALD FOR A SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Win a ticket to Bayview Concierge’s upcoming grief seminar!

Have you, or someone you know, suffered the loss of a loved one?  It doesn’t matter if it was yesterday, or 20 years ago.  The absence of a loved one is felt throughout the years.

Bayview Concierge is hosting an event with York University professor, author, and global public speaker, Dr. Stephen Flemming.  This event, Coping with loss and trauma – When someone you love dies, is meant to educate, validate, break the myths surrounding the grief experience, and connect attendees with invaluable resources.

I have one ticket to give away.  If you, or someone you know would like to attend, leave me a comment below (if you don’t see the comments section below, click on the title of this article and scroll to the bottom of the screen.)

I will do a draw on April 15th for one lucky winner.  Value: $30

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EVENT DETAILS:

Thursday, April 18, 2013 • 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Bayview Golf & Country Club,
25 Fairway Heights Dr., Thornhill ON L3T 3X1
Tickets: $30 per person
Please reserve your seats by emailing sherry@bayviewconcierge.ca
or by calling 647-349-1577.
Click here for more details.

HAPPY THOUGHT #56: Being models for a day

Thanks to Heart to Heart photography who invited my daughter and I to be models for a day in Hamilton.  We felt like princesses for the shoot, and the photos are incredible keepsakes for our family.

H2H 2

H2H 1

H2H 4

H2H 5

H2H 7H2H 8

H2H 6H2H 3

H2H 9

Interested in a mother/daughter photo shoot?  Check out the Heart To Heart Mommy and Me special:

H2H mommy and me

To contact photographer Stephanyie Hamilton:

*This post was 100% unsolicited.*