Mental health affects all of us in various ways. Our story began with the loss of our youngest daughter Lindsey. At the age of 22 she lost her battle with depression on September 20, 2015. As parents there are no words to describe the horror of that Sunday afternoon.
Like many who battle depression, Lindsey kept it to herself all through high school. To her there was a shame admitting her illness because of the stigma that surrounds mental health. She had a need to help those who battled depression and in high school she wanted to do anything to bring the conversation on mental health to the forefront. She found it to be a daunting task and could not formulate a plan especially being in her teens.
It is important to realize that Lindsey did not appear depressed on the outside. She had a magnetic personality and a laugh that made people want to be around her. Her dream was to become a commercial pilot and she came just short of taking her private license test. Her freedom was the skies which started when she was just eight years old on her first flight to Disneyland and after that she was hooked.
Our family of two sons, John and James and daughter Stephanie have always been very close, and we all deal with her loss differently. It gets a little easier after time to say her name and share stories but there will always be an emptiness that changed all of us and reminded us of how precious life is.
Ironically, in her death, Lindsey has made a huge impact in the way we are now looking at this illness.
Lindsey is not just a statistic but a beautiful human that graced this earth for twenty-two years and touched everyone she met. The diversity of people that attended her funeral in large numbers, was a clear sign of what her presence meant and how the shock of “she had so much” resonated with them.
Today and nearly six years after her death, her voice is being heard by her peers, government officials and families in Central Alberta. In 2015 my wife Cindy and I co founded Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation in Lindsey’s honor to help bring awareness and monetary aid for programs to assist our youth. It is our belief that early intervention around school programming will be an effective tool to diagnose students in their early years before it becomes a burden in their lives
Linds gave us joy in every sense, compacted into twenty-two years. What we would give to hear her laugh or watch how she lit up a room. Life is not always fair, but we now know how special every day must be and that Lindsey is still with us but in a different way.