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Trauma program helps Windsor mother cope with grief

As Mother’s Day approaches, a Windsor woman is opening up about losing both her daughters, and finding her inner peace.

Barbara Mann’s daughter, Angel, was in a car accident back in 2018 and broke her legs — she became addicted to fentanyl.

Angel struggled with addiction for years, got sober, and relapsed.

Suddenly, in February, the 26-year-old overdosed and died.

Mann says she lives with guilt.

“I wish I knew how to be a better mom,” she said.

It’s not her only major loss.

When Mann was 19, she gave birth to her first daughter, Crystal, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“Cumulative traumas happen, bang, bang, bang, bang, and it's like, I can't handle this,” Mann said.

But Mann is learning that her grief is much deeper — it’s complex because it started in childhood.

“I was basically at the streets when I was 15 in Toronto. I lived in dumpsters I lived in staircases, I lived in underground parking lots. God brought me through all of that,” Man explained.

She’s survived a broken neck, broken wrist, robberies, and scams.

And now, she’s taking back control and coming to grips with her past.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “I don't regret my past, any of it. Because I'm helping so many people with it. Because there's a power greater than ourselves.”

She found a program, called REACT, a local program that helps people navigate and deal with complex trauma.

“It's a series of events where people are in positions, they feel they might get hurt, they may die,” said Kristen Stockford, REACT Windsor’s director of operations. “They mentally don't have the capacity to take it. Yet they have no resource to resolve it.”

REACT operates out of the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative.

Stockford says adverse childhood experiences contribute to one of the biggest health crises in North America. Noting drug addiction and alcoholism, suicides and depression, and domestic violence are often linked to complex trauma.

“All the major killers in North America there are unquestionable links to experiencing complex trauma and the increased risk of those things in adulthood,” she said.

Mann is still grieving the loss of her daughters, but thanks to her counselling at REACT is finding healthy ways to cope — painting her home in rainbow colours, practicing self-care. Even displaying Mother’s Day Balloons in her front garden.

“I just put it up because I'm a mother to my inner child now,” she explained.

Mann wants others to learn that you’re never alone. And help — is right around the corner.

“Do yourself a favor and reach out to me I'd like it saved my life,” she said. Top Stories

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