NANAIMO — Grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide is a complex and lengthy experience, one an annual Nanaimo event wants to make easier and more collaborative.
Soles Remembering Souls is Sunday, Sept. 9 at Maffeo Sutton Park. Organized by Vancouver Island Crisis Society, it used to be a somber affair but is now a more uplifting event to better help grieving friends and family.
“It allows people to remember their lost loved ones in a good light,” organizer Matt Dunae told NanaimoNewsNOW. “As much as it's good to cry and get rid of those emotions, I didn't want to bring everyone together for a big mourning session. It's really exhausting having to go and sit somewhere for a couple hours and think about your lost loved ones and cry about it.”
For its 11th year, Soles Remembering Souls features a walk along Nanaimo's waterfront and live music. People are encouraged to bring photos for a memorial wall as well as shoes and socks, which will be donated to the Homeless Outreach and Support Team and Snuneymuxw First Nation.
Dunae said it's important to have an event which doesn't dwell on the negative because suicide grief is a difficult and complex process.
“When you lose someone to suicide, there's a lot of what-ifs, a lot of questions left behind and you don't really know where to turn. It wasn't a natural thing, it wasn't old age or cancer, it wasn't something we have control of or knew was coming. It's so important to help people re-connect and feel supported.”
Soles Remembering Souls helped Dunae manage his own grief following several suicides among his friends and family.
“I was in a real dark place myself. There was a lot of grieving and I wasn't making healthy decisions. When I stumbled upon the event the first time I was at a crossroads. I could have gone into a really bad place, but because of the event it allowed me to feel more connected and blanketed with support from the community.”
After attending his first event, Dunae quickly found himself getting help and was soon after offered a job with Vancouver Island Crisis Society.
“If it can changes things in my life, I feel there's going to be a person like me who's out in the crowd and will be affected so positively. It if affects one person in the way it affected me, it's totally worth it.”
Soles Remembering Souls begins at 4:30 p.m. Support workers and community organizations will be there to help anyone in need at the emotional event.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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