On February 3, 2017 our 19-year-old daughter, McKenzie, died by suicide. She left behind two younger sisters, her two Moms and a very close-knit family. We were completely devastated and left struggling to accept this new reality and loss in our lives. Friends and colleagues were very supportive and many recommended that we contact the Windsor-Essex branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for support. In April of last year McKenzie’s aunt and uncle told the family that they were participating in an event called “Ride Don’t Hide” in honour of their niece; and that was how we, as a family, became involved in this event. All of us rode with pictures of McKenzie attached to our bikes. Less than 6 months after her death it was a very emotional day for all of us, but, we all left feeling that we had accomplished a lot in her name. We knew that the funds we helped to raise would go to supporting groups such as the children’s Grief Works counselling program and several different Grief support groups.

We began attending the Survivors of Suicide Loss support group last fall. There are no words to fully express how important it has been for both my wife and I to meet with a group of people who understand all the conflicting feelings and endless questions, the moods and energy that it takes to simply get through some days. To spend time with a group of people to whom you don’t have to explain anything and can ask &/or express anything is an invaluable resource and opportunity provided to us by CMHA. We have drawn a strength from our support group that can only come from those who fully understand what it is to be bereaved family members of someone lost to suicide.

It has been mentioned in our group that we are part of a club to which no one wants to pay the price of membership. The funds raised through events such as Ride Don’t Hide make it possible for this support group and many others to be available to members of our community, young and old, who must face the reality of loss, learn to live with their loss, and find the strength to continue on with their life. Through the help of CMHA’s support group we are learning to find joy in our daily lives while keeping McKenzie close in our hearts.

Part of our journey is to support the yearly Ride Don’t Hide event and bring awareness to our community that mental health affects everyone. We want everyone to know that, “It’s okay to not be okay!” We want to help bring the need for more funding to the forefront of our community’s and political leaders. Only once mental health, in Canada, is viewed as important as physical health, will adequate supports be available to help those in need. If our story and efforts with our local branch of CMHA can help, then we have honoured our daughter’s legacy.

Support Sheri and Lanette in this year’s Ride Don’t Hide!

This is Sheri and Lanetter ride, why will you ride?