Michael McLellan wore his heart on his sleeve as he spoke about his late friend Brad at the recent Inclusion BC conference in Vancouver.
The 36-year-old Courtenay resident was part of a panel presentation dubbed: A roadmap for when you lose someone you love.
McLellan and fellow members of a co-operative non-profit called ESATTA (Empowering Self Advocates To Take Action) had each lost a loved one, mostly within the past year.
The five panelists discussed grief as well as coping strategies that helped them through the most trying times.
“Grief is really a tough discussion. It’s taken me a lot to say what I need to say in grief,” said McLellan, a visually impaired individual with a “diversability.”
Last year, his best friend Brad died unexpectedly at age 44. He too was visually impaired.
“The situation with me was sudden. I wasn’t ready for it. It wasn’t something I could deal with,” McLellan said. “We were like family in a lot of ways. As we have said, ‘We are brothers from another mother’.”
He and the panel asked audience members to fill out a profile that asks the following questions: What do people need to know about me? What helps me feel better? What don’t I need?
“Those are big questions to ask yourself, and they’re different depending on the situation.”
For McLellan, the coping mechanism is not to sit at home down in the dumps.
“Go and do stuff.”
He also notes the peace of mind that was provided by the Comox Valley Hospice Society.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said of coping with grief. “It’s always going to be there, but it’s slowly going to lessen.”