Find­ing hope af­ter tragic loss

Mandurah Coastal Times - - FRONT PAGE - Jill Burgess

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.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son­mu­ni­ d486930

Margo McAl­lis­ter with a photo of her son Kevin.

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