Family, Life, Life and love, R U OK?

R U OK?

He is not just a statistic, he was my brother.

Today is R U OK Day. It is a day that is close to my heart and one that I never thought would speak to me so strongly. To be honest, before I was affected by suicide, I thought that R U OK Day was a bit silly, I wondered why we would choose only one day of the year to ask someone if they were OK?

I know now that those three words could be the words that a suicidal person may need to hear. I wish that I had asked those those three words more often. But it can be hard to ask the question, especially when we know that it could open up a conversation that can be difficult to address. R U OK Day was developed by someone just like me, a person who had lost a loved one to suicide. It was Gavin Larkin’s grief after his father’s suicide that lead him to champion this one question ; R U OK?

R U OK Day’s mission is to inspire and empower people to meaningfully connect with those in their world and lend support when they are struggling with life. 

My brother wasn’t OK. I knew that, and I had tried to reach out to him, but days turn into weeks, and he wasn’t talking about it. It’s not easy when families are unsure of the resources available to them. We didn’t know what to say. I will never forget the day after he was found, we were handed a pamphlet, it explained what the signs were, what we should look for. It was too late for us.

James was the youngest in our family, the only boy with three big sisters who adored him. He spent a lot of time acting tough, but he had a soft nature. He had a beautiful heart, it was generous and loving and his cheeky smile radiated a room. I miss him every day, and would give anything just to have him back.  

James was a skilled carpenter and mentored many young builders, who often message me with stories of how much he taught them. Ironically at his funeral, his best mate spoke about James’s ritual on the jobsite, where he would get all the guys into a group hug and check in on them.

James was loved by many and left behind a devastated family, including a beautiful son. He had many friends. He just couldn’t see past his sadness.

Today and every day, lets check in on a mate or a loved one and ask them R U OK? Be prepared to listen. Times are not easy and many are struggling. Show kindness.

Fly high James. 1973-2018

If you need to talk you can also call the numbers below

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

To help you ask the question, there are many resources at www.ruok.org.au

Life and love

Love, loss and time for nostalgia

I have been thinking a lot about loss. Loss of business, loss of life and life as we knew it. We are going through difficult times. We are unable to see family unless they live with us, some of us are struggling to make ends meet, others are worrying about our health or the health of a loved one. Some are feeling the impacts more than others, and mood swings are a common thing. (for me anyway)! In our region, and other fire impacted regions, people were already traumatised due to the effects of the bushfires. Life does not stop for them and they must get on with it, often without access to any help.

Many are finding that creativity helps. People are cooking, gardening, painting, crocheting, renovating and jigsawing. Zoom is the new best friend of many. I wish I had shares in Zoom.

The hardest part for me is hearing of the massive loss of life, especially at the volume that Europe and the US is experiencing. Apart from the constant media reports, we are almost removed from that, and in comparison we are doing very well here in Australia.

But what about the positives? The sky is clear, pollution is down, people are making an effort to connect in different ways. Sure, nothing beats a hug but when we can’t see our friends or family in the flesh, we try harder to make the time to talk to them. We crave what we can’t have.

Aunty Louise with me as a bub

My Aunty died last week, she was my fathers only sister. I hadn’t seen her for years but I remember visiting her home as a child and spending time with my cousins. Her daughter asked mum if she had any photos and mum remembered that she made me a scrapbook and in that book was a photo of my Aunty Louise nursing me. She was wearing a super cool spotted dress and she was beautiful. I turned my middle room upside down to find that photo. In the process, I found many other photos. The scrapbook contained photos of my sisters and I, along with my brother. I got emotional seeing James as little Jamie, and then I found the poem. A little poem I wrote as a 9 year old about how much I loved my little brother. It wasn’t a great poem so I wont share it but I was only 9.

The poem

I sent the photos and the poem to our family page and it seems I wasn’t the only one having one of those days. My sister was missing her son who is living in Queensland. We were all missing someone or some time when life was a little bit fuller.

Jamie and I

I thought about my businesses. Grace came home and I talked to her about it. Those of us in business often treat our businesses as our baby. We nurture them, love them, get disappointed in them and we don’t want to let them go even when we know we should. I love my business, but I believe as a business owner, I am coping during this pandemic because I have learnt the hard way that a life is irreplaceable and a business is replaceable. I would live in a tent, give my business away and live without if it meant one more day with my brother, one more family Christmas with my brother in law Steve shucking the oysters. One more day of family bickering and naughty children.

Just one more day.