Navigating joy and grief

For some, Mother’s Day means presents, breakfast in bed and forking out $15 so your kids can buy you a gift from the school’s stall.

But for others, it can be a difficult milestone.

This Sunday will be an especially tough time for grieving mums, but some locals are finding new ways to get through it together.

Wendy Collins, the general manager of a charity that provides peer mentor support to parents who have lost children, the Ladybird Care Foundation, said there was “profound grief surrounding the loss of a child of any age”.

“We send our love and care and uphold many women who are holding grief around child loss especially, at this time,” said Wendy.

The charity’s founder, Maree Pascoe, said it was “really hard” to imagine losing a child.

“… unless you have lost a child,” Ms Pascoe said.  

“The reality is, all you can really do is hold your children tightly, and hope that you don’t have to endure a similar pain of walking that journey.”

“It just isn’t how it’s supposed to happen, parents shouldn’t have to bury their children.”

Ms Pascoe’s daughter Emma – nicknamed “Ladybird” – died a month after her 18 birthday due to a medical disorder that caused heart issues.

Not wanting other parents to experience their grief journeys alone, Ms Pascoe, her husband and some close friends formed the Ladybird Care Foundation.

Ms Collins said the mission was to support other parents through a free, unique peer mentor program

The mentors are other parents who have lost a child (of any age, infancy to adulthood), and are at least two years bereaved. 

“These mentors are carefully selected and trained then matched with newly bereaved parents, offering them empathy, guidance, and a listening ear, as only someone who has walked the journey can because they have also walked a similar journey,” Ms Collins said.

A newly-trained mentor, Annabel Murphy, lost her 26-year-old son Tim suddenly.

She has been paired with a recently-bereaved mum who had also lost her daughter of similar age to Tim. 

Ms Murphy said her role as a mentor was simply to “be there” and to support and listen – through the grief of facing a birthday, Christmas, an anniversary of passing, a wedding of a family member or the birth of a child.

This Mother’s Day, Ms Murphy said she would visit Tim’s resting place and spend time with his niece, along with Annabel’s first grandchild who was born just six weeks ago on the same date that Tim died.

“The timing of the birth of our beautiful granddaughter has been profound and is testament that mourning can in fact turn to joy,” Ms Murphy said.


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