‘I wouldn’t be a spir­i­tual per­son but Dark­ness Into Light is the most spir­i­tual thing I’ve done in my life’

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Frankie Con­nolly will never for­get that phone call five years ago. Ear­lier that morn­ing his mother Teresa (67) had taken her own life. His fa­ther had passed away af­ter a stroke the pre­vi­ous Novem­ber and his mother slipped into de­pres­sion af­ter­wards.

For Frankie, a psy­chi­atric nurse, the shock is still re­ver­ber­at­ing. He de­scribes his mother as the “nicest, friendli­est per­son you could ever meet” and he says her neigh­bours in her home town of Fal­car­ragh in Co Done­gal were dev­as­tated at her death.

“The Christ­mas af­ter my fa­ther died was a very lonely pe­riod for her. We could see she wasn’t her­self. Lone­li­ness would have played a big part in it.”

Frankie re­calls ar­riv­ing at his mother’s home af­ter his fa­ther had a stroke and see­ing the am­bu­lance out­side. “I could see my mum stand­ing on her own. It was a steady de­cline af­ter that. She hid ev­ery­thing from us and she be­came al­most reclu­sive in a way,” he says.

“They told me to go to the morgue at a cer­tain time to iden­tify the body. I re­mem­ber they pulled back the sheet. I was look­ing at my Mum and I said ‘that’s not her, it’s not her’. My brain wouldn’t al­low me to reg­is­ter it. My wife Natasha iden­ti­fied her. My brain just wouldn’t al­low me to go there,” says Frankie.

“I strug­gled my­self for a long time af­ter that. I’ve got my own fam­ily and I have to get on with it,” he says.

In his work as a psy­chi­atric nurse Frankie says he has dealt with many peo­ple with post­trau­matic stress. He be­lieves his mother was deal­ing with this af­ter his fa­ther died so quickly.

“In small town Ire­land when some­one dies, through sui­cide or not, the way the com­mu­nity pulls to­gether is in­cred­i­ble. The sup­port I got is amaz­ing. I’m still very raw. I could log­i­cally give lots of rea­sons why it hap­pened but to be in­volved in it is shock­ing and dev­as­tat­ing. You can’t grasp it un­til you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it,” says Frankie.

Last year Frankie de­cided to do Dark­ness Into Light in Fal­car­ragh in hon­our of his mother and to raise funds for Pi­eta House. He set up a page and within a mat­ter of days he’d raised over €3,500.

“I wouldn’t be a spir­i­tual per­son but Dark­ness Into Light is the most spir­i­tual thing I’ve ever done in my life. You go down into a wooded area and you walk into a walled area. There was a choir singing and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

“It’s re­ally about the peo­ple Pi­eta House are help­ing. In my work I’m at the fore­front of what’s go­ing on. I can see what peo­ple are deal­ing with,” says Frankie.

We could see she wasn’t her­self. Lone­li­ness would have played a big part in it”

Try­ing to make sense of it all: Frankie Con­nolly de­scribes his mother Teresa as the ‘nicest, friendli­est per­son you could ever meet’

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