Sudbury funeral director shares his story about bullying on Pink Shirt Day
SUDBURY -- Feb. 24 marks Pink Shirt Day in Canada, also known as Anti-Bullying Day. In Sudbury, a young man who was bullied throughout elementary and some of high school is sharing his story to raise awareness and create change.
Jeff Shrigley is now 28 and thriving as a funeral director in the city, but he told CTV News things haven’t always been good in his life.
“I was called fat all the time," Shrigley said. "I was made fun of … because of what (my dad) did to make a living, and it didn’t matter what I did. I hid in the bathroom, pretty much tried to stay away from people in general.
"The verbal and physical bullying escalated in Grade 7 and 8 when I was pushed down the stairs, into lockers, into windows.”
For most of his life, Shrigley kept his story to himself, but in August 2020, he decided to start a blog to not only share his story, but to try and create change and start conversations.
'It was something I didn’t want to relive'
“It was something I didn’t want to relive,” he said. “The stories about hiding in the bathroom, having to make up excuses as to why I’m not going out for recess, it did take its toll on me, so that’s one of the reasons why it took so long."
When COVID hit last year, he decided it was time to speak out in hopes of making a difference in someone’s life.
“I’m going to talk for the people who can’t, the people that are still scared, and the people who can’t because they aren’t here anymore because they didn’t make it through,” Shrigley said.
Now he updates his blog once a month and also hosts presentations about bullying at events in the city.
He’s been working at Lougheed Funeral Homes for more than 10 years and said if it weren’t for Gerry Lougheed, president of Lougheed Funeral Homes, he wouldn’t have shared his story.
“I love people who affect change and Jeff affects change in a very positive way," Lougheed said. "We here at the firm, as a community and we as a society are very lucky to have the Jeff Shrigleys.”
He's now at peace
Shrigley calls Lougheed his mentor.
“Just the confidence he gave me and the support I’ve received, it’s heartwarming I can’t put it into words,” said Shrigley.
“He’s one of my best friends. He is my mentor.”
One promise Shrigley made to himself is not to share the names of his bullies. He said he has moved past those days and is at peace.
“There’s much more to life than bullying, then tearing people apart,” he said. “I’ve let it go. I’ve been at peace with it. I don’t think it’s important I mention their names. It’s not about them anymore, it’s about the people that went through it telling their story.”
When COVID restrictions are lifted, Shrigley plans to go to schools in Sudbury to educate students about bullying.