A Fort Saskatchewan mother is using her pain to help others in the community.
After losing her son, Justin, to suicide fourteen years ago, Maureen Pilkington wants to support others and bring light to a topic often left in the dark. Pilkington is forming a weekly suicide support group which will meet Thursday afternoons at the Fort Saskatchewan Legion.
"There are so many people, young and old, who are fighting this within themselves," said Pilkington.
"There are a lot of support groups in Fort Saskatchewan, but this is a very single illness – it's a separate topic on its own and it's hard to deal with because it's unseen."
Pilkington's advocacy for suicide awareness began early on after Justin's passing, even going as far as to assist the RCMP in intervening in a suicide attempt. She's also answered several late-night calls over the years to help people struggling.
"If it means one less person who dies by suicide, then so be it. Because that person could be an uncle, a mother, grandma, and grandpa," she continued.
While helping others has helped Pilkington turn her pain into something positive, she struggles daily with the loss of her son. For years, she wouldn't allow city staff to grow grass on Justin's cemetery plot, adding it's just one more layer between her and her son.
"I don't want anybody going through what I went through and what I am still going through and will always go through."
She hopes that having a dedicated support group for suicide will help those who feel alone in their struggles. Pilkington wants the group to provide a safe space for people to grieve or share their stories in whichever way they feel comfortable.
The group, "Suicide - The Journey – One Step at a Time", has a Facebook page and will host its first meeting at the Legion Thursday (Apr.21) from 1 - 3 p.m.