Diamond Jubilee Medal – Addendum

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At the reception with all those fancy shmancy people (corporate donors, upper management), regional directors along with  counsellors, colleagues and volunteers, I was feeling pretty calm.  I was allowed a guest, so I had invited a long time, former colleague and friend, Kelly, who I had not seen in years!  I was pleased to have  her “witness” this moment with me. It was also great to have my best friend and colleague, Maria,  receive this honour with me too!  There could not be a more perfect evening than this!…until…

It was especially wonderful getting to talk to a volunteer who also was recipient for this honorable award. How she touched my heart!  Her daughter had been bullied A LOT and she had taken her life!  I felt an imaginary boxing glove sock it to me right in the solar plexus and then tears started filling my eyes. I remember the series of suicides in that area of the country 2+ years ago. It had impacted me the most in my entire career working on this youth line.  What struck me were the stories shared in the media and how I had recognized one youth as a teen to whom I had spoken…I felt so guilty and powerless.

Now here I was facing this amazing woman, grief-stricken mother,  and volunteer who goes to schools to talk about bullying and spread the word to get help and not take your life.  I told her I remember speaking to a girl at that time and how sad I had felt.   She just smiled and tried to comfort ME!  She kept thanking me for doing the wonderful work that we do on this youth line.

This wonderful woman…this amazing soul, mother, angel of grace deserved this medal more than she can ever know!  She has shared her story month after month…she has spread the word that our youth line is an option and she has saved so many youths from taking their lives…so much more than she will ever know.  How fitting that SHE received such an honour…The Great Spirit has created some amazing angels of mercy …Pam, this amazing woman and her daughter, Jenna who continues to be a part of that important message…Don’t ever give up…there is help.

And so when I received this medal, I opened the box and looked at the medal and tears welled up again. I noticed how it resembled my step-father’s medal he received from the army for having fought in World War II.  And I…an ordinary person like me who did nothing extraordinary was holding this medal in my hand now!  How my step-father and Mom would have been proud of me today!

My thoughts went back to Pam and her extraordinary courage for sharing her story with youths day after day despite the pain it must bring to her.  How I feel honoured and thankful to have met this woman. For over 2 years I have carried this guilt and fear whenever I get a similar call nowadays.  I had not realized how much I had been moved by this tragedy.

If it had not been for my having this opportunity to go up to Toronto, thank you Kathy, to receive this medal…thank you Kids Help Phone, I would never had met this outstanding person, Pam…I accept this Diamond Jubilee medal in honour of  your Jenna.  Thank you!

http://tech.ca.msn.com/mom-believes-bullying-pushed-teen-to-suicide

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, June 6, 2013

A tragic loss…

Tragic loss in 2013


Another soul destroyed, another heart broken and alas, a life is lost. Rehtaeh Parsons took her life this week… The tragedy in Nova Scotia has surely hit the hearts of most people in the country and with the media as well as all over the world.  My heart goes out to the Parsons’family and the community.  I have no doubt that everywhere,  mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, youths and adults all grieve this terrible loss.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/09/mother-launches-facebook-attack-against-those-she-blames-for-teen-daughters-suicide/

I think of the students at school and the mixed emotions that fill them.  How do they handle this?  A tragic death…a person living with so much despair, takes her life not knowing what else to do to ease the plague that besieged her…the hell she must have been living.

Everyone is impacted by this tragedy and as a society we are all implicated in some way…how do we react to sexual assault?   Not enough legal proof?  Okay, so why do we as a society look for ONLY authorities to weigh this?  As parents, as part of the community, as schools, as friends of friends of friends who know what happened…why can’t we try to teach our youths?  What about those who taunt, tease and harass to the point of pushing a person to utter despair?  How can we teach these persons that this type of “bullying” is pure torture they are enforcing on a peer?

I am not just talking about consequences; many youths  will be living with a huge burden the rest of their lives that I would not wish on anyone…ever.  I am talking about how do we respond to our youths’ who are exploring life but still need guidance?  How do we teach them right from wrong so they can “get it”…the moral and ethical meaning?  How do we help them tap into their consciences/soul  and act with respect and concern for others?

Grief brings up lots of difficult emotions such as shock, denial, sadness, anger, guilt, confusion to name a few but I think anger is one that is quick to follow a person around and swaddle their mind, squeeze their heart and fill their soul.  Some will be lashing out at anyone or anything as one tries to come to terms with what they are dealing … a tragic loss.  Sometimes anger is easier to endure…it is loud and active. It is letting out the pain rather than drowning in sorrow.   In order to put aside feelings of powerlessness,  better to feel the energy (although negative) of anger.  And so for many teenager-depression_girlpersons,  anger will be their ally …it may be their way of trying to drudge through this long difficult grieving journey, jumping hoops to avoid the pain of sadness and guilt.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and to  those inflicted with this terrible unrest.

If you know of a youth who needs help…let him/her know there IS help…reach out to this person, offer your ear, call a trusted adult to help him/her…if in doubt…call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or check their website http://kidshelpphone.ca   http://jeunessejecoute.ca for information; they offer counselling on Live Chat as well and you can even download their App Always There /Toujours a l’Ecoute.  Sometimes it can be easier to talk to a professional in an anonymous setting…it’s a start.

Remember that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary (however long that may appear or feel) problem.  There is help…