Brownstein: Olympic Stadium helps illuminate children’s mourning

A first for Montreal as the Big O joins other Canadian landmarks in commemoration of Child Mourning Awareness Day on November 18.

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The Olympic Stadium will be full of blue light Thursday night.

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It has nothing to do with any local sports loss. It’s all about a much more important loss: the impact of the death of a sibling on a child.

November is Children’s Funeral Awareness Month across North America, while Thursday is Children’s Funeral Day. In recognition of the day, Toronto’s CN Tower and Niagara Falls, among more than 15 major Canadian monuments and landmarks, will blues Thursday night.

And for the first time in Montreal, a memorial service of the day will be observed with the lighting of the Big O in blue. It is largely thanks to the efforts of the Myra’s Kids Foundation that the bluish occasion will be observed here.

Social worker Corrie Sirota, the foundation’s clinical director, was a major force in the fight to bring awareness to the forefront.

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She hopes that in the blue glow of the Big O, it will serve as a reminder “it’s okay to talk about death to illuminate the subject.”

A team of Myra’s Kids Foundation volunteers, dressed in blue, will be present Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. to talk to visitors about its mission. The event will be rebroadcast on the foundation’s Facebook page.

“The reality is that children are often the forgotten mourners,” Sirota says. “In our efforts to protect them from any kind of misfortune, their frustration is often unacknowledged because we don’t want to talk about it and we can’t stand it. And, of course, kids have great imaginations. So if we don’t talk about it, they will create their own stories. Usually that’s a lot worse than what actually happened. ”

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Sirota cites the example of a child losing one parent and trying to deal with the other parent who is so excited that the child often feels that they have lost that parent as well.

For the past four years, Myra’s Kids Foundation has played a pivotal role in bringing awareness to children’s mourning locally through counseling, monthly support groups, family programs and holiday celebrations, seminars and a funeral summer camp for children. The services are all offered for free.

“We’re still like that in our childhood,” she says. “We have to do a lot more. Children mourn differently, often as a roller coaster soon, and have a much greater risk than their peers for depression, suicide, and drug addiction. So let’s start the conversation. ”

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According to Statistics Canada, one in 14 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling when they turn 18 years old.

Sirota credits founder and CEO Jon Reider for making Montreal join other communities in recognizing and supporting child mourning.

“Jon’s mother died when he was three years old, and his family removed all her pictures and never spoke her name again.” Sirota says. “Because of that experience, he recognized how unhealthy it was. And through some friends in Toronto, he found out about the (pound) Camp Erin in Toronto, and they encouraged him to launch one in Montreal. “

Sirota was embarking as the clinical director when Camp Erin, now referred to as the Myra’s Infantry Camp, kicked off in 2017. It is a non-denominational weekend summer camp run by volunteers (except Sirota) for children 6 to 17.

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Activities took place in a Laurentian summer camp before COVID hit. So over the last two summers, a socially remote, outdoor program has taken place locally at Collège Brébeuf. The plan is to return to Laurentians next summer.

“The whole condition of the camp is that it is a place to honor the memory of a family member who died and to do so in a safe, nutritious environment. But at the same time, it’s also for fun. ”

As is the case with the founder of the Reider Foundation, Sirota may well relate to the loss of a loved one. Her older brother Andy died at 26 in 1988 after being run over by the driver of a stolen car who jumped the sidewalk in a police chase. He died of an effect.

“I honor my brother every day in the work I do,” says Sirota, whose book, Someone Died … Now What? A Personal and Professional Perspective on Enduring Mourning and Loss, is dedicated to her brother. “He is very forward and central in my presentations to state that it is good to talk about this.

“We have to do a lot more of this. But the stern reality is that as a society we shit about dealing with grief and loss. For such a universal experience, why are we so uncomfortable talking about it? “

bbrownstein@postmedia.com

twitter.com/billbrownstein

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