Jackie Playter experienced feelings of sadness and anger when her husband of 51 years, Glenn Playter, passed away from a heart attack in 2020.
Now she's sharing her story of how she felt at the time, how she deals with her grief, and where to find support in a new short film through Oasis, the local centre for bereavement and healing.
"I thought why not put myself out there because I might be able to help other people deal with it. I think sometimes the best way to deal with it is to talk about it. You should never isolate yourself, you need to talk," she said.
A good cry helps, Playter said, but ultimately you need people and she spoke about that in her interview for the film.
“The most important thing I said is don’t be alone,” she said.
If you are alone, she recommends going out to a show or a coffee shop just to sit and be surrounded by others, even if you don't talk to them. She also recommends reaching out to Oasis for support and grief counselling.
Another things that's important for Playter is to honour your loved one who has passed. In her case, she makes donations to the Newmarket Historical Society, a cause about which Glenn was passionate, and visits his grave on special occasions with family to pour a drink for him and share a toast.
"You can remember them and be sad but still be happy that they were part of your life. I think that’s important. You have to remember the good times," she said.
Glenn was the owner of Roadhouse and Rose Funeral Home on Main Street. Through their work, Playter said she has a lot of experience with grief and grieving families. They used to have a bereavement program called Genesis but were not able to sustain it. Now they back Oasis for the wonderful work they do supporting people in the community.
Playter's film is the first in a new series, debuting on Oasis's website Jan. 25, which is also Bell Let's Talk day.
"It's therapeutic for the storyteller, but also therapeutic for the listener, as well, to know that you're not alone, to hear somebody else's story," said Michelle Nye, founder of Oasis, of the series.
In 2009, she was living in Saskatchewan when she and her husband unexpectedly lost a baby girl during delivery. They found themselves grieving and feeling alone. There, she was able to find one central place with various services and support to help her through that process, but when she moved back to Newmarket, she didn't find the same thing.
"I noticed that there were a lot of resources in Newmarket and they're all wonderful, but they're all kind of spread out," she said.
Nye started Oasis in 2017 as a centralized hub online, where people could reach out and find resources, support and learn where to turn based on their needs.
For the film series, Oasis is planning to release instalments regularly. There is no set number of how many films will be released, as it is still evolving, but Nye said they hope to have a variety of different stories because everybody's story is unique.
"For example, Jackie's story is the death of a spouse. That story may not ring true if someone is searching for resources on the death of a child," she said. "Grief in general is universal, but sometimes you really want to hear the story of somebody who's experiencing something closer to what you've experienced."
The film series is one of the many winter happenings at Oasis.
On Feb. 4, it will be hosting a Games for Grief game night from 6 to 9 p.m. at Queensville United Church in Queensville. The main goal of this event, according to Nye, is community building rather than focusing on grief.
There will be literature available about Oasis and what they do, but ultimately people are invited to come out and play some games and just have a fun night. Admission is free but attendees are asked to make a donation if they are able and register for the event online.
Then on March 2, Oasis is hosting Positively Purple, a dinner and silent auction, as its major fundraiser for the year. Tickets are $60 per person and include a three-course meal hosted at Sharon House Tap and Kitchen. You can purchase your tickets by contacting [email protected].