Tag Archives: Suicide

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

Stand Up To Stigma SPOTLIGHT event! (One day to go!)

Are you attending the University of Waterloo? Do you know about the Stand Up To Stigma SPOTLIGHT event? Just in case, here are the details.

Stand Up To Stigma SPOTLIGHT roster


Stand Up To Stigma is an incredible organization on campus that is dedicated to eradicating stigmas from university life. We have a long way to go, but together we can make a huge impact towards this important goal.

Stand Up To Stigma’s SPOTLIGHT event is one of their many annual events that is focused on shinning a light on stigmas so they can’t hide in the darkness any longer. The more we talk, the more we understand. The more we understand, the better we can bring about positive change.

The SPOTLIGHT event will take place in the Student Life Centre’s Great Hall located at 200 University Ave. W. in Waterloo, from noon – 3:30pm.

There will be an art exhibit, special guest speakers, and access to informative handouts.

Yours truly will be sharing my story from 12:30pm – 1:00pm. I will also be sure to have a few copies of my newly published book Breathe, and important handouts from the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

Will you be going to this event? I hope to see you there. Remember, wherever you are you too can shine a SPOTLIGHT on stigmas, and more importantly, on hope.

SPOTLIGHT event 2014


Special thanks to Van Houtte Coffee Services (my day job) who is supporting my participation in this event by enabling me to use volunteer hours on company time.

For a list of other events please click here.

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



Discussing the suicidal mind – FREE conference with Dr. Gustavo Turecki (April 3 & 4, 2014)

“Ten years ago, Dr. Turecki, (professor of Psychiatry and Human Genetics at McGill University,) presented in our Region. He will now update us on ten years of research on the suicidal brain.”

On April 3 & 4, the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council in partnership with Grand River Hospital will be hosting four free presentations featuring Dr Gustavo Turecki.  All four presentations will focus on the suicidal brain but will be targeted to four specific audiences:

  • community based clinicians (Thurs April 3rd, 2:30 – 4:00pm)
  • general public  (Thurs April 3rd, 7:00 – 8:30pm)
  • primary care providers (Fri April 4th, 7:00am – 8:30am)
  • hospital staff clinicians (Fri April 4th, 11:00am – 12:30pm)

Seating is limited. To register contact Tana Nash, Director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, at tnash@lutherwood.ca or call (519) 884-1470 x2143. Please indicate which session you would like to attend.

For more information please refer to the attached flyer.

Brain Science - Dr Gustavo Turecki FINAL




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.

photo (2)


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 Bell Let’s Talk TOTAL TALLY is in!

If you thought the $150,000+ raised through tweets for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign that was announced this morning was good, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The results are in. Yesterday, Bell’s tally registered over 100 million text, tweets, Facebook shares, mobile and long distance calls, raising a whopping:


That’s a lot of talking!

Way to go Canada!!! You really got your talk on!

If you didn’t have a chance yesterday I highly recommend taking a look through the Bell Let’s Talk website. How about starting with some video testimonials of people living with mental health challenges? Click here to start watching now, and let’s continue the conversation.


Tallying up the results after Bell Let’s Talk day!

As Bell works hard to tally up the results now that the Bell Let’s Talk day has ended, what we do know is how much money will be donated based on the 3, 043, 248 tweets that were posted yesterday using #BellLetsTalk.

3,043,248 x $0.05 = $152,162.40 just for tweeting alone!

I can’t wait to find out how many funds will be added and donated to mental health initiatives once the results are in for Facebook shares and texts sent by Bell customers. Stay tuned…

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Bell Let’s Talk day. In 2012, Waterloo Region’s very own suicide prevention council (WRSPC) received a grant of $16,000 from Bell. This money was used to provide suicide prevention training and resources for local family physicians and primary care providers.

The funds people help raise throughout these campaigns are making a difference in the community where I live, and likely in the community where you live too (if you’re in Canada.) Thank you!


It’s Bell Let’s Talk day! Find out how you can help build a federal framework for suicide prevention.



bell lets talk 2014

Bell Let’s Talk day is finally here, and raising funds to support mental health initiatives has never been so easy.

Bell will donate $0.05 for every:

  • Text a Bell customer sends
  • Every Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • And every share of Bell’s Facebook posts on their Bell Let’s Talk page



The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is doing a broad consultation until the spring of 2014 to inform the development of the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act (as a result of bill C-300 that Kitchener’s own MP, Harold Albrecht, helped secure so that Suicide Prevention is now every Canadian’s responsibility.)  It is an extensive survey and can be filled out as an individual or from an organizational perspective (so be sure to share this with your company’s Human Resources department.)

Note: You are able to save as you go, so you can take your time completing this important survey. 

Please share widely with your networks so we can provide as much feedback to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as possible and help build a solid framework for a stronger tomorrow.

CLICK HERE to start the survey now.

Please SHARE THIS POST with the hashtag reference “#BellLetsTalk so we can spread the word AND raise funds every time you do so. $0.05 (1 share with Hashtag) + $0.05 (1 share with Hashtag) = $0.10 + $0.05 (another share with Hashtag) = $0.15 and so on…


 It’s Bell day. Let’s talk.

January 28th is Bell Let’s Talk day!



Bell Let’s Talk day is just around the corner. On January 28th for every text Bell customers make, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every share on Facebook of Bell Let’s Talk posts, Bell will donate $0.05 towards mental health awareness campaigns. It’s a simple way to raise funds to fight the stigmas surrounding mental illness. Awareness is life-saving work. Help save a life!

 Watch this 1 minute video of Clara Hughes talking about how you can support Mental Illness awareness.


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:


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.



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!



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.



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!



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