“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
By Gisele McKnight
Healing Hearts, a support program for those who have survived the suicide of a loved one, has earned recognition and support in the Sussex area.
On April 18, Healing Hands was awarded a grant of $1,880 from the Sussex Area Community Foundation. Before that, a mental health fundraiser at Poley Mountain Ski Resort earned the small group $1,000. And even a kitchen party at Trinity Anglican in Sussex last fall, organized by the Rev. Dana Dean, gathered $330 for the cause. The program runs at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Sussex Corner.
Co-facilitator Diane McKay, a member of the Parish of St. Mark’s, is thrilled with the recognition and gains being made. She and co-facilitator Lynn Sparks have just presented a second 12-week course. As well, they will hold a special meeting Tuesday, May 15 at 6 p.m. called Safe Talk.
A preventative workshop on how to talk to someone who expresses interest in suicide, it will also be an opportunity for those interested to gather information on a topic that was largely unspeakable not long ago.
“You’ll learn not only how to talk to someone who is considering suicide but also how to listen to what they are saying. You also learn how to keep them safe until you can get them to medical help. You will learn the dos and don’ts,” said Diane.
The Safe Talk event takes place at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Sussex Corner. Registration is limited to 30, so those interested should contact Diane soon at 506-512-0763 or < dsmckay16 at gmail.com >.
After the success of the first Healing Hands support group last year, Diane has been doing a lot of public speaking. In December, she spoke at the local vigil to remember the victims of the Montreal Massacre of Dec. 6, 1989 when 14 female engineering students were murdered. Also in attendance was Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne, who was taken by Diane’s speech and work.
“He wanted me to come speak to town council,” she said. “The month we got to speak there was February, which is Suicide Prevention Month.”
As she spoke, she saw tears well up in the eyes of those present, and one councillor told his story of intervening to prevent a suicide.
“To see the council open up was wonderful,” she said.
Afterwards, the mayor urged her to apply for funding from the Sussex Area Community Foundation, saying the Helping Hands program might be something the foundation would like to fund. With only days until the deadline, a proposal was drafted and sent.
Now with their coffers full, Diane and Lynn will use the money to buy books and materials for the course.
“But the biggest thing is advertising,” she said. “And not just in Sussex but the surrounding area.”
The 12-week support course uses the book Understanding Your Suicide Grief, by Alan Wolfelt. Years ago, Diane travelled to Colorado to study under Wolfelt, a suicide survivor, educator and Christian writer, in her own quest to make sense of her brother, Scott’s, death. Some of the material is Christian-based.
Diane noted that, even though the Sussex Corner course has only run twice, one woman has taken it both times; the first time she was dealing with the very recent suicide of her son, she said
“It’s been exciting to see where the participants are when they finish compared to when they started,” she said. “It’s going well. It’s amazing now how doctors and mental health professionals have gotten on board.”
For information on the Sussex Area Community Foundation, visit their website: www.sacfi.org