Hundreds of people — friends and family of Reid Bricker, along with those who never met him but know his story — gathered at Winnipeg's Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on Sunday to celebrate the young man's life.
Reid's family called the gathering a healing service to honour his passing.
The 33-year-old was last seen on Oct. 24, when he was released from Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre at 3:20 a.m., where he had been admitted following a suicide attempt.
By Nov. 2, Reid's mother, Bonnie Bricker, had lost faith that her son was still alive, having found a suicide note at his downtown apartment the day before.
"He was a kind spirit [and had] the ability to feel empathy for all people," Bricker said on Sunday, before sharing a story of a time Reid gave a woman $47 for a cab ride. Though Bonnie was skeptical, the woman later called Bricker at home to thank him.
"'See mom? She was a good person who really just needed the money. It wasn't important why. She just really needed
help,' Bonnie remembered her son saying.
Reid's friends, cousins and uncles took turns at the podium to share their memories too, including recollections of the young man as thoughtful, passionate and competitive; a talented sculptor and peacemaker.
"He could see things that the rest of us couldn't," said one of his friends, referring to a sculpture of two rings Reid had created from a single piece of stone for her wedding.
The hour-long ceremony consisted of loved ones sharing stories, and each story was followed by music that had special meaning to Reid, everything from jazz to The Band to Dire Straits.
"I think that we showed everybody that there was another side to Reid, not just the sick side but the well side, and that was very important to us," said his mother Bonnie Bricker.
"He'd be very touched by the wonderful things people said. He'd be encouraged that there's this part of humanity ...that can come together at a sad time, and be able to listen to music, and to heal."
In December, Bonnie Bricker partnered with Manitoba's Minister of Health Sharon Blady to initiate changes to the province's mental health system, particularly in the context of hospitals' protocol for releasing patients who have a history of trying to take their own lives.