A Gulf Island man’s work to change the lives of others is being remembered after his death of a suspected drug overdose.
Michael Stone was a renowned Buddhist, yoga teacher and author with a worldwide following. In mid-July, the 42-year old, who was bipolar, was found near death on the streets of Victoria.
The person who best knew Stone, a father of three with another child on the way, said compassion is part of his legacy.
“His work touched so many people through how much he spoke to the heart of what’s important for people and being a human and feeling utility in a world that’s easy to be lost in,” Carina Stone, Michael’s wife, said.
After Stone didn’t come home from a trip to Victoria on July 13, his wife started a missing person’s search.
Stone was found the next day and was taken off life support on the July 16.
The family revealed Stone lived with bipolar disorder and was rejected by a pharmacy for a safe, controlled medicine to self-medicate, and turned to street drugs.
Initial toxicology tests showed fentanyl in his system.
“We weren’t ready for this. Michael loved his life and he did not want to die,” Carina said.
Carina says her husband was well versed in the silence of mental health issues in today’s culture and helping people.
But Stone feared the stigma for his own diagnosis, although he worked towards opening up more publicly about it.
“A lot of people leaned on him as their bedrock” Stone said.
“And so this question of if I’m this source of stability, how do I hold back and support people and also bring this part into it. So he was working towards that.”
Many are still coping with Stone’s death, where community was a big part of his message, including One Yoga Victoria owner Natalie Wright.
He made it possible for people to come together to make it, OK, to rely on other people, to use other people, both for yoga and Buddhism,” Wright said.
Vigils for Stone were held throughout Canada over the weekend.
News has stretched internationally, with Stone’s death recently covered in the Washington Post.
A GoFundMe page is online for Stone’s family and has raised more than $70,000 in four days.
“I can’t imagine how anyone can do this without the kind of support I’m feeling right now, I feel very lucky,” Carina said.