The death of a son, the struggle of a mother
August 24, 2009 will haunt Francine Proulx-Kenzle forever. Two years after coming out of the closet, his son Jeremy took his life away.
TEXT | CHARLES LALANDE – PICTURES | CORY HERPERGER
First wiped out, then resilient, she decided to invest to avoid further similar drama in Saskatchewan.
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Dad mom. I love you, but …
So begins the letter Jeremy Kenzle left on his bed before leaving the family home in Regina never to return. That morning, Francine Proulx-Kenzle and her husband, Rodney, knew right away that their lives would change forever. The Regina Police Service quickly launched a search to locate their 28-year-old son.
Jeremy’s sister, Meagan Kenzle-Frohlick, then a Bachelor of Education student, was on her first day of internship at a school in Prince Albert, over 360 km from Regina.
Early in the morning, a coworker informed her that he had seen posts on Facebook from people looking for her brother Jeremy. Incredulous, Meagan called his mother, Francine, who tried to reassure her. But hours after the disappearance was reported, the young man’s vehicle was found in the parking lot of a Regina hotel, where he had taken his own life.
“When I got the call, I collapsed. My legs gave way”, recalls her sister, who then left Prince Albert to go to Regina with one of her cousins.
“It was an extreme shock for the family”, explains Francine, more than 11 years after the tragedy.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to suicide, everyone loses.”
Francine Proulx-Kenzle, mother of Jeremy
Many people actually suffered from Jeremy’s death. His mother, his father, his two brothers, his sister, his uncles, his aunts, his comrades … All these people have lost someone unanimously described as endearing, funny, empathetic, who liked to debate different subjects – a little too much sometimes, his mother will tell you – but above all, an enthusiast destined for a good career.
When Jeremy opened up to those close to him about his homosexuality, the news was well-received. But the love and acceptance of the people he loved the most in the world was not enough. He explained in his letter that he felt incapable of living in a society that did not fully accept his homosexuality.
These words, heavy with meaning, remained in the memory of those close to him and ended up awakening in his mother a strong desire to change things. Armed with her resilience, after taking the time to grieve and seek help, she became a mental health trainer and an ambassador in the fight for acceptance of the LGBTTIQQ2SA community.