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What My Brother’s Suicide Taught Me About Living

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My brother Brett died 3,285 days ago today. 9 years. It feels like a hundred. It also feels like yesterday. But whereas others have moved on with their lives, I am one of the few left counting. Please don’t get me wrong, I am glad others have moved on. He would be glad too. But my life and how I see it has changed forever.

The morning I learned of my brother’s passing was a day I will never forget. I miss him very much and at times I am still overwhelmed with enormous grief and paralyzing sadness. All these year later when I think about him, warm tears instantly well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks.

Typically, those feelings catch me off guard: a song, a memory, a family event like our Uncle’s 70th birthday last year where for me his absence is always felt. Or a wedding or the birth of a baby, events that bring so much joy and happiness, yet I always remember that my brother will never experience two of those life’s greatest moments.

It may not make sense to some but my most of my hardest hitting moments are at times when I am happy, not times when I am sad. I am forever left with the feeling of “I wish my brother was here.”

The last time I saw my brother is etched forever in my mind.

A surprise 43rd birthday party for me in December of 2011 filled with love and laughter. That cold, snowy evening ended as usual—a hug, a kiss on the cheek.

“I love you,” I whispered in my brother’s ear.

“I love you, too,” Brett replied to me, like a thousand times before.

That was the last time I would ever see my brother.

Nine years ago, a little after 3 a.m., on March 19, 2012, I was awoken by my husbands’ words, “Jodee, I think someone is here.” I still remember vividly the image of four black pant legs with yellow stripes on the doorstep as my husband opened the front door.

My brother had taken his own life.

The World Health Organization estimates that each year approximately 800,000 people die from suicide, which accounts for one death every 40 seconds. Some sources predict that by 2021 that will increase to one death every 20 seconds.

These deaths are our sons, daughters, moms, dads, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. And in the approximately five minutes it takes you to read this article, seven people will have taken their life. Seven families, friends and loved ones will very shortly feel a pain like no other, their lives changed forever.

My brother’s death taught me so much, not about dying but about living. I try to remember to cherish life every day, to be open-minded, empathetic, and understanding, and to tell the ones I care about that I love them. I strive and am successful in not being bitter, angry and blaming as those emotions serve no purpose other than to break my spirit and keep me stuck. I work hard to remember that not everyone has the same opinion, that we all experience life and the circumstances surrounding it differently. So, I never get argumentative when others do not agree with my perspective. They have not lived my life, nor I theirs. Without realizing it, my brother and his complicated journey taught me that you never know what someone else may be going through, so I try to be kind.

Because of my brother and his absence, the beauty of life is always fresh in my mind.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t wish he was here, or that I don’t love him. It doesn’t mean I’m not feeling an underlying sense of sadness. But in his memory, I try to appreciate and enjoy life everyday.

I have made a conscious choice to celebrate how precious life is. That it is filled with so much beauty at the same time can be filled with heartache, challenges and hardship. I am blessed to live in the small town of Sylvan Lake; the water brings me joy and peace. It always has, which I believe stems from my childhood with my brother. Family vacations where we were blissfully happy and constantly in the water.

As much as I can I breathe the fresh Alberta air; I swim in the water and feel the warmth of sunshine on my face. I love the sand between my toes. Because of my brother, I remember how short life is and you can’t take any day for granted. You never know what tomorrow may bring. In fact, you never know if there will be a tomorrow at all.

Today, I celebrate the lives and memory of everyone who has lost their lives to suicide and the families that love them.

Today, my sweet brother, I celebrate the memory and love I have for you.

 

Jodee Prouse is a sister, wife, mom, and author of the powerful memoir, The Sun is Gone: A Sister Lost in Secrets Shame & Addiction & How I Broke Free. She is an outspoken advocate to help eliminate the shame & stigma surrounding addiction & Mental Illness. Follow her on facebook @jodeetisdaleprouse

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566. If you think someone is in immediate danger, do not leave them alone, stay with them and call 911.

Sister. Wife. Mom. Friend. Business Owner. Author of the powerful memoir The Sun is Gone: A Sister Lost in Secrets, Shame and Addiction and How I Broke Free. Outspoken advocate to help eliminate the shame + stigma surrounding Addiction + Mental Health. Follow her on instagram @jodeeprouse

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Alberta

Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirms another case of 'bird flu' in B.C.

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RICHMOND, B.C. — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a small flock of poultry in Richmond, B.C.

The agency did not provide information on the number of birds infected by H1N1, or the type of poultry.

It says while the so-called bird flu is not a food safety concern, it is spreading across the globe and anyone with birds must use preventive measures like securing their property by a fence.

It says small flocks are at risk of contracting viruses like avian influenza, especially if they have access to ponds or bodies of water known to be used by wild birds.

H1N1 can also be spread on the clothing and shoes of visitors and employees moving from flock to flock, through contaminated feed, water, bedding and farm equipment as well as via airborne particles and dust blown by the wind.

B.C.’s Agriculture Ministry said this week that avian flu had been found in a commercial flock in the Fraser Valley, home to 80 per cent of the province’s poultry farms.

Avian flu cases have been confirmed in several other provinces, but no infections have been detected in humans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

A brief history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Battle of Alberta

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The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are fighting the Battle of Alberta in the playoffs for the sixth time in the rivalry’s history.

Here’s a brief look back at the five previous encounters between the two:

1983: OILERS WON 4-1

In the first meeting between the two sides in the playoffs, the Oilers began a trend of dominance against Calgary, taking the series in five games.

Wayne Gretzky finished with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in the series as Edmonton took the Smythe Division final with ease.

The series was among the least competitively played of the five encounters between the two in the post-season, with Edmonton outscoring Calgary 35-13.

However, it did begin the trend of the Oilers, more often than not, getting the better of the Flames in playoff play.

1984: OILERS WON 4-3

Case in point: Just a year after getting bounced by the Oilers in the Smyth Division final, the Flames got eliminated again.

This was a far more competitive series, going the full seven games and featuring two overtime contests — both Calgary win.

Ultimately, though, the star power the Oilers boasted — in particular, Gretzky and Jari Kurri — proved too much for Calgary to overcome.

The seven-game victory helped propel the Oilers to their first Stanley Cup championship.

1986: FLAMES WON 4-3

Another seven-game series, two years after the first one.

Taking place again in the Smyth Division final, Calgary finally got the better of Edmonton.

The series was decided by a goal scored a little over five minutes into the third period that broke a 2-2 tie in Game 7.

Oilers defenceman Steve Smith attempted a cross-ice pass but it ended up striking Flames goalie Grant Fuhr’s leg and trickled into Edmonton’s goal.

This series win still remains the only time the Flames have defeated the Oilers in the post-season.

It also helped catapult Calgary to its first Stanley Cup final appearance, where it fell to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

1988: OILERS WON 4-0

The most dominant Oilers victory of the four they’ve earned, Edmonton swept Calgary and, outside of an overtime win in Game 2, had no issues handling the Flames.

Edmonton dominated despite not having home-ice advantage for the first time in their playoff series with each other.

1991: OILERS WON 4-3

The only series outside of the one happening now that didn’t see the two teams meet in the Smyth Division final, this one took place in the Smyth Division semifinal and, for the second encounter in a row, saw the Flames with home-ice advantage.

Unfortunately for Calgary, even with Gretzky no longer around in Edmonton, it was the Oilers coming out on top, this time breaking the hearts of Southern Alberta again as Esa Tikkanen scored 6:58 into overtime of Game 7.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

 

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