CW: this post mentions suicide

During our March to Santiago, 150 Days of Hope and Healing, we have heard from many of you. Your stories of courage, hope and eventually healing continue to encourage and inspire us. Marsha is one of these Pilgrims.

I am Marsha Bergen and I live in Coombs, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. I was born in The Netherlands and came to Canada as a young adult in 1968.  I am now 72 years old.  I have two sons from my first marriage: Oscar, born in 1971, died at the age of 44 in June 2016. And Philip, born in 1975 and died at the age of 36 in December 2011. Both sons died by suicide.

About 8 months after the death of Philip, my sister in Ontario invited me to walk The Bruce Trail with her in that province. We hiked 250 km’s together that summer of 2012 and I discovered how healing it was to lace up hiking boots every day and walk, rain or shine.

About a year after Oscar died I remembered him saying sometime after his brother had died: “I have not cycled across Canada yet”. That was the inspiration for me to start a virtual cycling trip across Canada. I have been working on this now for 4 years and I have plotted all my cycled kms on the map of Canada. Currently I am in the Province of Quebec, cycling towards New Brunswick. I expect to complete this virtual cycling trip by arriving in St. John Newfoundland at the end of 2022.

So when I learned about the Virtual Camino trip I thought it to be just right for me. I started in February 20, 2021. I love logging my kms and get rewarded by beautiful pictures along the way. At the beginning of this year of 2021 I started a daily meditation routine. Something I had learned about before and practiced for some time, but then stopped doing it for some reason. But this time I have consistently meditated every morning for 3 months now. I find it to be a perfect fit with the Camino walk.

I have been involved with an organization called ‘The Compassionate Friends’, which is a support group for parents who have lost a child at any age, and for any reason. Over the years I have become the Chapter Leader of our local Compassionate Friends Chapter in the town close by called Qualicum Beach.

Every day I think of my two boys and I feel their encouragement for me as I cope with these incredible tragedies in my life. Somehow I have to carry on and live my life. Thanks to these physical activities I feel I can.

Growing up in The Netherlands my main means of transportation was always cycling. So physical exercise is an important part of our lives in my country of origin. Walking is also a very big part of my life and I have taken several trips with my husband Ron which involved hiking our West Coast Trail of Vancouver Island and hiking in our mountains.

I am so thankful the opportunity to do this Virtual walk came my way and I want to thank everyone who came up with the idea and then made it into a reality.

Thank you to Marsha Bergen for sharing your story of hope and healing with the Camino for Good community. Buen Camino


  • Jennifer Vroon says:

    thanks for sharing your story of your sons. I feel your strength to carry on and Im here cheering you on. I have four children and some live with mental health challenges. We have all been home together and I find the walking is so helpful for my mental health. My wish is they would catch that bug and start walking or biking too. I wish, but realize it is something I can only do for myself. bien Camino!

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve just recently lost my adult daughter, she was just 2 days from being 42. September will be 2 years. I am inspired by your willingness to continue to reach for life.

  • Gert Pot says:

    Lezen door de site kwam ik je verhaal tegen en dat je uit Nederland afkomstig bent. Toch altijd weer een trots gevoel als Nederlander als je iemand anders iets over Nederland zegt of schrijft. Ik lees dat je virtuele fietstocht al bijna Nieuw Brunswijk heeft bereikt ookal zo’n naam met connecties met Nederland denk ik.
    Je hebt al heel wat op je pad gekregen maar uit het verhaal stekt het je dat je kunt wandelen en op die manier dichterbij je zonen bent. Ik hoop dat je nog veel steun mag ontmoeten op je verder wandelingen door het leven!

    Google translated by admin:
    Reading through the site I came across your story and that you are from the Netherlands. Still a proud feeling as a Dutch person when you say or write something about the Netherlands to someone else. I read that your virtual bike tour has almost reached New Brunswijk, also a name like that with connections to the Netherlands I think.
    You have already gotten a lot on your way, but the story shows you that you can walk and that way be closer to your sons. I hope you get to meet a lot of support on your further walks through life!

  • Belinda Cruz says:

    Very thoughtful blogg

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