‘We couldn’t imagine my mum taking her own life’
Two brave young women are on a quest to help people deal with grief and loss by sharing their deeply personal stories and advice on how to cope.
New friends Sally Douglas, 34, and Imogen Carn, 32, both lost their mums suddenly in the past year, and are honouring their memories with a bold new Australian podcast launching on Friday.
And their aim is clear: we can help you move forward and boost your mental health.
"We've turned our pain into passion," Douglas says. "We've also been weirdly energised by this, and we don't feel we are alone with our grief anymore."
The women bonded over their shared pain when they connected through the support organisation Motherless Daughters Australia earlier this year.
From that friendship has grown The Good Mourning Podcast. The first three episodes will be released on what would have been Douglas's mum's 65th birthday.
Douglas's UK-based mother Rose died in November last year at age 64, from a rare complication of epilepsy known as SUDEP - sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
The PR worker had been living in Australia with her husband Anthony for more than six years, and found out about her mum's shock death in a 6am telephone call.
"It was such a shock and I felt so far away," she remembers. "I assumed I would have my mum into my 40s, 50s, 60s and suddenly she was gone."
Carn's mum Vanessa died in February this year by committing suicide at 62. Her death came out of the blue for Imogen and her family.
Carn's daughter was just nine months old, and her sister had only recently given birth to her second son.
"It was all just so dark and sinister and it was such a lonely experience," Carn says. "Suicide doesn't discriminate and it's not just the repercussion of a mental illness, particularly with my mum, it was all circumstantial, it was pretty much a horrific twist of fate that led to it. My mother is the last person we could have ever imagined taking her own life."
The first two podcast episodes detail Douglas's and Carn's stories and the other is their first guest interview, with author, Mindset and Style Coach and podcaster Sally Steele. She shares her experience with grief and loss and how her father's death was a pivotal time in her life.
According to official records from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 158,493 Australians died in 2018 - that's a lot of grief for children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, best friends and family members.
Carn and Douglas have come to realise while the loss of their mums has been profound, grief doesn't discriminate. And everyone's experience is different, painful and deeply personal.
"Death happens to us all, it's not a new thing, but people don't really talk about it still," Douglas says. "Obviously it is an intense topic, but we both feel it is something that needs to be talked about."
Carn says no topic will be off limits in the podcasts. On the eve of the podcast launch she was recording an interview with a woman who was sharing her story about the loss of a baby. But the conversations are not all about sadness - humour is a big feature - and the women hope they will both inspire and comfort listeners.
Sharing her experience with her mum's suicide was intensely confronting and difficult for Carn, but she is determined to talk about it.
"There is such a stigma attached to suicide, and if talking about that makes a difference then I will feel like I am making something out of an awful situation," she says.
And in the process, she has found a comforting connection with her mum.
"I feel like I am channelling my mum - this is so who my mum was," Carn says.
"She would want me to talk about it in the hope it would help someone else. It's exactly the kind of thing she would do."
SALLY AND IMOGEN'S TIPS FOR MANAGING GRIEF
• Take it really easy on yourself: take it minute by minute if that's all you can do
• Reach out for help: grief is a really traumatic and lonely experience
• Meditation can promote calm thoughts
• As annoying as it is to hear, time is the only thing that's going to help
• Nothing helps a lot, things are only going to help a little
• Know that no matter what messed up things you are feeling or thinking, they are all normal
• If you do seek counselling, seek out someone who specialises in grief
The Good Mourning Podcast will be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other major podcast platforms and will be released fortnightly on Friday mornings from September 18. For more information see goodmourning.com.au
If you need help you can reach out to Lifeline any time 24/7 on 13 11 14
Originally published as 'We couldn't imagine my mum taking her own life'