British Columbia

'You are not a bad mother': Husband pens letter to moms with postpartum depression after losing wife

Kim Chen, whose wife, Florence Leung, was found dead in November, published a Facebook post Tuesday about his loss and postpartum depression.

Kim Chen's wife, Florence Leung, was found dead in November after disappearing the month before

Florence Leung, 32, went missing from her New Westminster, B.C., home in October. She was found dead the next month. (New Westminster Police Department)

"Two months have passed since the detectives and victim's assistance staff showed up at our home, with the grim look on their faces," Kim Chen wrote on Tuesday.

"I knew immediately what they were going to say before they entered the door."

On Nov. 17, Chen learned his wife, Florence Leung, had died. She'd gone missing from their family home in New Westminster, B.C., the month before.

The 32-year-old mother of an infant boy had been dealing with postpartum depression, Chen said.

Police said no foul play was suspected in her death.

You are not alone. You are not a bad mother- Kim Chen, husband of Florence Leung

This week, Chen penned a Facebook statement about the loss of his wife and sent a message to other mothers who may be dealing with depression.

"For all the new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings," he wrote. 

"You are not alone. You are not a bad mother."

The father-of-one spoke to CBC News on Tuesday. He didn't want to appear on air but confirmed he authored the post.

As police searched for his wife early last November, Kim Chen thanked friends, family and community members for their support. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

Chen said anxiety over breastfeeding could have been one of several contributing factors in his wife's postpartum depression.

He said the process had created stress, and that Leung had had trouble sleeping.

"There were challenges," he said.

In his statement, Chen stressed that new moms who are unable to exclusively breastfeed shouldn't feel any guilt.

"There needs to be an understanding that it is OK to supplement with formula, and that formula is a completely viable option," he said.

"Our baby boy is growing well and well taken care of," Chen wrote. "He is at 90th percentile for height and weight and smiles and laughs a lot!" 

Long wait for support

Sheila Duffy, director of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society, said one of the biggest hurdles for treating postpartum depression is a lack of resources.

"The wait list can be pretty lengthy at times, so I know that they're stretched. Their capacity is stretched too," Duffy told the CBC in November. 

"It's an issue that needs attention."

The province of B.C. says up to 16 per cent of birthing mothers will experience at least a few symptoms of depression.

With files from CBC's Kamil Karamali

Read Kim Chen's full Facebook post


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