Finding hope after tragic loss
MARGO McAllister worries about people who do not know about Compassionate Friends, an organisation that supports newly bereaved families to which she gives much of her time.
“Encouraging people to say ‘RU OK’ is not always easy and we must get people to open up,’’ she said.
“Suicide is the most common cause of death in 16- to 40-year-olds in Australia. There are eight suicides a day and for each person who takes their life, at least 10 people are affected.”
Mrs McAllister is one of them.
In 1986, her son Kevin was just 23 years old and an ambitious young man who had established a printing business. He was a father of two – aged four years and four months – but his business failed and he went bankrupt.
“He was working so hard and I thought he might get the business going again,’’ Mrs McAllister said.
“He sounded so positive and repaid as many creditors as he could, even though he didn’t have to.
“But he felt he had let people down.”
After her son took his life, Mrs McAllister was offered professional grief counselling but desperately needed to speak to someone who had been through a similar experience.
“I thought I was going crazy,’’ she said.
That was when she discovered Compassionate Friends.
“I just walked into a room of bereaved parents and knew I was not alone,” she said. “Suddenly I had a place.
“They understood my anger and were empowering and non-judgmental.
“And there does come a time when you can look at a picture of a loved one and smile, not cry.”
Mrs McAllister said she had never forgotten what it was like to be bereaved and had tried to take something positive from a traumatic event.
Margo McAllister with a photo of her son Kevin.