Lela MacDonald's husband, Allan, took his life almost five years ago.
Ever since that life-altering day on June 25, 2008, MacDonald, 50, of New Annan hasn't stopped talking about the death.
However, she has made a concerted effort to deal with, rather than to dwell over, the tragedy.
Purposefully seeking open dialogue about her immense loss has gone a long way in helping the mother of two to cope, to gain strength, and to carry on living her life in a positive, healthy fashion.
Pat Doyle, the suicide prevention co-ordinator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, P.E.I. Division, says the loss of a loved one to suicide is probably one of the most painful losses a family will ever have to face.
Yet Doyle is quick to note that many survivors of suicide work through the grief and are able to channel their energies towards a new purpose.
"Some develop a greater appreciation for life (more gratitude), some become more compassionate to those who are struggling, for others there is spiritual growth,'' she said.
"Lela is a terrific example of a suicide survivor who has engaged in activities that both honour her loved one, and give purpose and focus to her grief.''
One activity MacDonald has remained faithful to since her husband's death is the Adult Survivors of Suicide Self-Help Group.
The group welcomes adults who have lost a loved one to suicide.
MacDonald attended her first group in Summerside in 2009 along with her daughter Jenna, her mother, and Allan's six siblings.
"I felt it was a good way to sit and talk about it,'' she said.
She has not looked back.
She says the group has given her the strength to talk about the suicide that delivered such a massive blow to her, to her children, and to other loved ones.
"The group just gives you that strength and support,'' said MacDonald.
"This group allows us to share and talk of our loved ones, or just listen as well if that is all we can do. We share a common bond and feeling of "they know what we are feeling.'''
There are currently two Adult Survivors of Suicide Self-Help Groups active on Prince Edward Island: the one in Summerside that is co-ordinated by MacDonald and one in Charlottetown.
Each group is co-facilitated by veteran suicide survivors — those who are at least two years beyond the death of their loved one.
Facilitators follow a meeting agenda and provide a sense of direction for the group, which may include particular discussion topics or guest speakers.
The agenda is flexible, allowing group members an opportunity to share and problem solve around issues and challenges that may arise.
There is no fee, attendance is voluntary and new survivors are welcome to attend at any time. There is no pressure to speak or to share and some initially come simply to observe — to see if the group is right for them.
Doyle says the group in Summerside and the one in Charlottetown both meet a real need.
"We often try to professionalize grief,'' said Doyle.
"Certainly informal support can be just as helpful.''
She adds that the CMHA endorses the peer support model of the Adult Survivors of Suicide Self-Help Groups.
Doyle says on average 15 people commit suicide each year in Prince Edward Island. Four out of five are male.
The toll on loved ones is crushing and widespread.
She estimates as many as 10 people are "profoundly impacted'' by each suicide.
That adds up to well over 100 people each year are being dealt a crippling loss that leaves them in great need of comfort, guidance and support.
"Survivors often face many complex feelings following a death by suicide,'' the CMHA states in its pamphlet called Grief After Suicide: A Pathway to Hope and Healing.
"Emotional responses may include feelings of abandonment, shock and disbelief, confusion, depression, anxiety, panic, bewilderment, fear, humiliation, shame, guilt, and/or a sense of failure.''
That litany of emotions provides plenty to open up about at a self-help group meeting.
MacDonald says people who come once to the group usually return.
"There's no expectations...you can just come,'' she urged.
"Other people know what you have been going through. They won't judge you.''
MacDonald recalls one woman who came to her first meeting 10 years after losing her mother to suicide.
"She felt she couldn't talk about it but always had that pain and grief that she really needed to talk about it,'' she said.
There are times MacDonald feels she is at the support group more for the benefit of others than for her. There are other occasions, she is quick to add, where she needs them as much as they need her.
"At the end of the meeting you will often get a hug and they will say 'I'm glad I came,''' she said.
Turnouts, unfortunately, have been low of late at the monthly meetings. MacDonald knows this must mean many Islanders are "silently grieving'' the loss of a loved one to suicide.
She encourages people to attend the group in Summerside or Charlottetown.
"Don't be afraid to walk in.''