We all know how BCSS helps families find support. We all know that BCSS is there when people need them. But who are the people who make BCSS what it is? Why do they do what they do? Everybody has a story that drives them to passionately support families in need. This time, we bring you BCSS’ Community Presentations Coordinator, Rosemary Sojka’s story:

Why did I join BCSS? Is there a story lurking in the background? Every story has a thread of connection and mine was my younger brother Johnny.

I still remember quite vividly the birthdays, holidays, and those special moments that the two of us would share like “Wacky Wednesdays” where we would find a good movie, eat pizza, popcorn and pop (all of the most nutritious substances to indulge in). Sometimes it was Fishy Friday or Taco Tuesdays. Most poignant were our “walk and talks” where sometimes we’d share lighthearted conversations and sometimes the most heartfelt ones. This was until distance separated us– he in Ontario and I in BC. Regardless, our hearts were still connected to each other.

My dear brother who was suffering from clinical depression and had PTSD due to a horrific incident. He also lived with addiction and substance abuse. And yet, he always had a false smile on his face that said, “I’m fine, it’s all good”. He was 21 years young when one day I received a phone call from so many miles away. A stranger on the other side of the line shared the heart breaking news that my brother had passed. He could not find it in him to hold on and live anymore.

For so long, I grieved. The loss of a sensitive, artistic, and intuitive young man who was no longer in my life was enormous. In my grief, at times I would forget that he was not not me anymore and I would reach out for a birthday card thinking “Johnny, will love this one”.

The stages of grief are different for us all. Time eases and transforms. I am now finally celebrating the life, the spirit that he was instead of how he passed. He was kind, nonjudgmental, funny, creative, and always helpful for those in need. And when I joined BCSS, BCSS captured my personal values of education, awareness, and support for families. The programs of BCSS and my position brings these values to the community in the hopes that no one stands alone. There is hope, there is a means to cope. In everything I do now, I celebrate you, Johnny. Miss ya, bro. 

Rosemary Sojka

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CMHA/PEI: Supporting Children and Youth to Grieve After Suicide Loss