Meet the Author, and seven contributing writers, including our
adult Children, and one sister (true stars of Life Came to a Standstill). Let's begin with a few words from the book's Introduction, continuing with the bios, and a small excerpt from each chapter.
"Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er fraught heart and bids it break." William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Please speak of your pain. A burden shared is a burden lightened. Welcome to our collection of eight true stories: real experiences written by the seven bereaved mothers and one bereaved sister who are living them. It is our belief that sharing will help you feel less alone.
If you have chosen Life Came to a Standstill following the death of your child, sibling, or another precious loved one, I am so sorry for your loss. If you have elected to learn more about grief in order to bolster a bereaved relative or a friend, thank you . . .
About the Author
Born in Newfoundland, Gwendolyn Broadmore grew up in Ontario and lives there with her husband and their opinionated parrot, Blue. The sudden, violent death of her son, Liam, as well as the stories of the countless bereaved parents who have shared their pain with her, inspired this book. In the early days of her grief, Gwen found that reading the stories of others carried and consoled her. She hopes Life Came to a Standstill will likewise provide validation and encouragement to those who may struggle with the deep anguish of sorrow and the loneliness of loss. Gwen’s first publication, Grief and the Courts, a not-for-profit booklet resource for surviving victims of violent crime, is available online.
Chapter One, Liam's Story
Liam Spencer Broadmore:
November 27, 1966 - October 12, 2005
"You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here."
-Desiderata: Max Ehrmann
The instant we returned to the empty cottage, our eyes latched onto the pulsing message light. We were out of sorts. From the beginning, this day had felt all wrong. We blamed our irritability on pre-winter clean-up, rarely an uplifting task, following Thanksgiving. We were keen to be home. It became an aggravation to backtrack with flooring samples--our fault, since we had succumbed to the lure of a fall clearance sale. Very soon, this everyday errand would recall a place of innocence, a place to which we would never return . . .
Seven contributing writers
Carol Reid-LeClair, Helen Jay, Janet Rice, Beverley Ogus, Kathleen Stevens, Susan Massey, Marjorie Suzanne (Suzy) Richardson.
These writers have been invaluable to the creation and breadth of "Life Came to a Standstill." With candour and courage each has revisited the early days of her grief journey—intimately revealing both the trauma and anguish of loss. With a unique voice, each writer has shared how she has managed to cope, ultimately communicating a warm promise of hope.
Carol Reid-LeClair is the mother of two children: daughter Christine and son Alan, who died tragically in December, 2005. In a search for answers, to her sudden, mind-numbing grief, Carol read everything she could find on surviving the death of a child. During her painful journey, Carol met Gwendolyn Broadmore at a bereavement support group. When asked if she would contribute to Life Came to a Standstill, Carol instantly said, “yes.” She strongly believes that this book’s true accounts of traumatic loss will assist families who are grieving and encourage them to “choose life.” Carol is now retired from her position as an administrative assistant, and resides in Ontario with her husband Bill.
Chapter Two, Alan's Story
Alan Clayton Reid:
June 4, 1976-December 6, 2005
"Memories of love abound
In my heart and in my mind.
They give me comfort, keep me sane
And lift my spirits up again."
On December 6, 2005, my husband, Bill, and I were in St. Pete's Beach for a two-week holiday, scheduled to return home for Christmas. We had been in Florida just a few days when, following a day of Christmas shopping, we arrived back at our motel to a message from the police, asking us to call as soon as possible.
Perplexed, we wondered if perhaps our house had been burglarized while we were away. At 6:45 p.m. Bill called the police officer . . .
Helen Jay deeply believes that in order to enable healing, personal experiences of loss should be shared. Following the sudden death of her son, Adrian, several life-changing events occurred for her family, inspiring Helen to write articles about grief and about coping with the traumatic death of a child. A retired registered nurse born and educated in Nova Scotia, Helen—as a volunteer facilitator—offers one-on-one support within Bereaved Families of Ontario (Midwestern Region) and Wellington Hospice. Emotional survival and eventual reconciliation is Helen’s goal, for herself and for all those who struggle with loss. Helen lives in Ontario with her husband, John.
Chapter Three, Adrian's Story
Adrian Gordon Jay:
June 11, 1976 - September 20, 2002
"Throughout our lives we are sent
precious souls . . .
meant to share our journey,
however brief or lasting their stay
they remind us of why we are here.
To learn . . . to teach . . . to nurture . . . to love."
- "Some People" by Flavia Weedn
Following are just a few reflections about our son:
An avid outdoorsman, he devoted his life to the personal development of others. His work, passions, and charismatic personality impacted all those he touched. Adrian had a truly beautiful spirit, and my unending respect. He wanted to be and was a leader.
He stood a man of good character--always I will remember him as bright, warm, and giving. He was an amazing person, yet humble. He had a way of making the most boring things seem to have a life of their own, and he did crazy things just for the hell of it. Adrian touched, inspired, and empowered many kids . . .
Janet Rice was born and raised in the Maritimes, and has lived her adult life in southern Ontario. After leaving her career as an elementary-school teacher to raise her sons, Janet taught private piano lessons in her home studio. Through the years, she has participated in choirs and ensembles, and most recently swing bands. Following the tragic death of her thirty-six-year-old son, David, in 2009, Janet became involved in bereavement services. She is an active volunteer with a variety of community groups, and a passionate advocate for improved support for those suffering with mental illness.
Chapter Four, David's Story
David Alexander Rice:
November 2, 1973 - December19, 2009
"Grief is the price we pay for love."
-HRH Queen Elizabeth 11
It happened twice last weekend: first at the Metro store and then at a real estate open house. On both occasions, I was pleased to come across a former student who was also a friend. I had not seen either of them in several years. We eagerly exchanged information about academic accomplishments, jobs, husbands, and partners. Of course, the conversation turned to an update about their children, whom I had also taught. And then, inevitably, to my own children, which included some bragging--on my part--about my handsome son Andrew, his lovely wife, and our three wonderful grandsons. In the back of my mind was that ever-present question: "Do I mention David? What about the child I have lost?"
Beverley Ogus lost her nineteen-year-old son, Russell, to suicide in 1989. A Registered Nurse whose main focus has been psychiatry, Beverley spent many years searching for meaning in Russell’s tragic loss. She became devoted to channelling her sadness in helping others cope with bereavement. Returning to school to complete her education in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, Beverley began her own practice in 2000, only recently retiring in 2018. Throughout the preceding years Beverley helped clients who are dealing with the deaths of their loved-ones, and also those who are coping with life's varying challenges. She sees her work in bereavement and this book as a continuing legacy for Russell. Today Beverley savours travel with her husband and the gift of extra time with their children and grandchildren.
Chapter Five, Russell's Story
Russell Alan Ogus:
February 17, 1970 - May 8, 1989
"A time to break down, a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn . . ."
Inexplicably, the minute I arrived home, I could hear a car running in the closed garage.
Dear God, it must be Russell; no one else is home.
In complete confusion and panic, I pounded on the locked door, immediately screaming, "Russell, what are you doing Are you crazy?"
"Open this door right now!"
Kathleen Stevens was a direct-support volunteer with Bereaved Families of Ontario-York Region until the death of her husband, Robert, in January 2015. This essential work became a part of Kathleen's grief-journey following the death of her son, Sean, in 2012.
By refusing to give up, Kathleen has discovered a positive path: reading, writing, and reaching out for guidance.
In sharing Sean's story, she honours her son while giving hope to others.
Chapter Six, Sean's Story
Sean Angus Duncan:
May 8, 1977 - June 8, 2012
"Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand."
- Excerpt from an Irish Blessing, engraved on the plaque of Sean's columbarium.
I woke on the morning of June 8, 2012 never suspecting that my life would be profoundly and forever altered that evening. Our lack of awareness, as human beings, of what the future holds allows us to go about our lives feeling somewhat protected from what could be and eventually will be. By this, I mean that although we know that we and our loved ones eventually will die, many of us live a life of denial.
The death of someone else's loved-one--or worse, of their child--is not related to our own life, but to other people's lives. When we hear about the death of a child, most of us breathe a sigh of relief and thank God that it wasn't one of
ours . . .
Susan Massey is a personal support worker specializing in palliative care. The 2008 murder of her sister Brenda Healey brought her an awareness of the lack of support for victims of homicide. Working with Victim Services of York Region and other community groups, in 2009 Susan co-founded the Remember Me Homicide Support Group.
Sue was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012 and the Attorney General’s Victim Services Award in 2013. She lives with her family in Newmarket, Ontario.
Chapter Seven, Brenda's Story
Brenda Ann Healey:
February 13, 1981 - March 8, 2008
"Do not boast about tomorrow
For you do not know what
a day may bring."
- Proverbs 27:1
I was enjoying my Saturday morning sleep-in. In my dream I hear a ringing, but I cannot find the phone; it keeps ringing and ringing. My son comes into the bedroom and says, "Nana's on the line, and it sounds like something is wrong."
When I speak to my mom, I can hear the sheer panic in her voice and I immediately ask her, "What's wrong?" She tells me that my sister Brenda is missing. She didn't come home from work last night . . .
Suzanne (Suzy) Richardson’s daughter, Robin, died suddenly in 2008. Suzy’s subsequent grief journey led her to explore bibliotherapy and the importance of reading for bereaved family members. She now researches, sources, and donates books to local groups and agencies to support grieving families. Suzy is a receptionist for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula and lives in Wiarton, Ontario, with her husband, Don, and their two dogs, Shadow and Bentley.
Chapter Eight, Robin's Story
Marjorie Suzanne (Suzy) Richardson
Robin Maria Richardson:
October 10, 1986-June 2, 2008
"Reading: A Light in the Darkness"
There is a complicated tension that exists between our best days and our worst days. Our best days--the ones we look back on as "perfect days"-- tend to softly embed themselves in our memories, so that we can go back and visit them whenever the need or want arises. We cling to every detail and try to keep them from fading like a precious photo.
Our worst days--just like our perfect days--also have a way of being fixed in our memories . . .