A MESSAGE FROM:
Christine & Germain Gaudet
In May 2011, our son Julien Gaudet died as a result of a traumatic brain injury suffered in an automobile related accident. Julien was 18 years old.
In the weeks and months that followed, we sought out counselling through the bereavement program at the Canadian Mental Health Association – Windsor Essex County Branch. There, we found companionship, support and invaluable coping mechanisms to help get us through the daily challenges while mourning Julien’s death.
In wanting to become more involved in assisting other bereaved parents, we created a variety of peer support initiatives designed to help all parents and families keep their deceased children part of their daily lives. We attended a series of seminars at The Coping Centre in Cambridge, Ontario presented by the world renowned grief specialist Dr. Alan Wolfelt. We were very impressed by the facility and what it stood for; we began to ponder whether we could transform Julien’s first home, which sits on an acre of land to become a similar centre for the citizens of Windsor and its surrounding communities.
As a result, we reached out to professionals in this field to discuss the merits of such a facility in our community. As fate would have it, the bereavement professionals recognized this need and envisioned a similar facility. Together we approached like-minded individuals who have embraced the philosophy of Julien Gaudet’s House.
A Message from Bereavement Professionals,
Christine MacMillan and Colleen Campo
Based on years of experience in the field of bereavement it became evident that a link to restorative programing was needed to help transition an individual from ‘what was’ to ‘what is yet to be’. It is our strong belief that Julien Gaudet’s House (JG’s House) will offer this unique service.
Perhaps the following analogy of a scout who helps an ‘elderly person’ across the road will serve to demonstrate the intention of this unique program. The ‘elderly person’ is someone who has crossed the road many times during his or her life. However, for some reason she now feels vulnerable; she is unsure of how to take the next step. Although she has been given the tools and told she is capable, from her perspective, the road is overwhelming; it is full of cracks and potholes with unrelenting distractions and detours. She does not yet realize the benefits but she can be assured that the person gently holding her elbow won’t let go, won’t push her too fast and will encourage her by words and actions so that she will be able to cross safely to the other side.
Who is the ‘elderly person’? She is the bereaved mom and dad whose child died as a result of sickness or a sudden death. The elderly person is the spouse, father, mother, grandparent, sibling, and friend…the parent who experienced the miscarriage or stillbirth of their precious baby. The elderly person is a survivor of a homicide or a suicide of their loved one. She is you and I who have experienced the death of a loved one. One never knows when they may be that ‘elderly person’ and may need the ‘guiding elbow’.
Who is the scout? He or she is the volunteer or professional who guides the bereaved person with their gentle but firm hold on the person’s elbow. The scout is the cheerleader and will listen to the bereaved person’s story as often as needed. Perhaps while trying to cross the road, the elderly person falters; the scout, however, continues to be present with an arm outstretched so that she can reach for it.
We recognize there are many ways to cross the road or many paths leading to a meaningful life. It is not necessarily about getting back to work or going back to one’s ‘old life’; returning to one’s old life is impossible since one is forever changed after the death of a loved one. JG’s House will offer the bereaved person an opportunity to maximize their quality of life throughout their personal journey. While engaging in the different types of restorative programming at JG’s House, perhaps strengths and interests will be uncovered or long forgotten desires reignited. JG’s House will provide much needed expertise and programming to allow individuals to move from ‘what I was’ to ‘what I will become’ with gentle guidance in a safe and nurturing environment.
The bereaved of Windsor-Essex County can only benefit from the unique, restorative programming of Julien Gaudet’s House. The addition of this service will complement the already existing programs for the bereaved in our community.