real life

'10 years ago, my daughter Molly died in an accident. This is what I wish I'd known then.'

On an ordinary Wednesday, my life changed forever. 

It was 2012, the July school holidays. My husband Peter was overseas, and I was juggling the busyness of a chaotic house, three kids and a long to-do list. 

My daughter Molly, aged 13, was on our property with my other daughter Emily, aged 10, and one of their friends. They were riding a quad bike - it was a normal part of life for them as farm kids. 

My phone rang. Emily, saying there’d been an accident.

Molly, on the family's property. Image: Supplied.

I raced down to the paddock where they were. As soon as I saw Molly, although there wasn’t a mark on her, I knew she was gone. 

A freak accident, and the world as I knew it no longer existed.

Every parent’s worst nightmare, and I couldn’t wake up from it.

Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye to Molly is the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. Her loss came not long after I’d lost my mum to cancer, and had my own battles with health. I’d hit rock bottom. It was a dark place.

Most people didn’t know what to say or how to react. Some people came by with food and supplies, and gave us space. Others kept away, perhaps because they couldn’t bring themselves to face us or to confront Molly’s death.

Molly, Emily and Sofia. Image: Supplied.

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When we first started venturing out into the world, it was hard to hear comments from people who hadn’t thought about what they were saying.

I remember clearly one Sunday when we braved taking our son to a rugby game to watch him play. Molly’s death was still raw, only one week had passed since her funeral. My plan was to lay low, and avoid people as much as possible. 

A mother I vaguely knew bustled over to us and said: “I was thinking about you last night and how sad you must feel - because while I still get to make three lunchboxes, you only get to make two.” 

It was like a full body blow.

Learning the words.

After that day, I realised I needed to set some boundaries around how I was prepared to talk about Molly. 

When people asked questions which were too personal, like “how did she die?”, I would gently stop them. I am always open to talking about Molly, but not the details of that day. 

I’ve also learned that in our society, we aren’t given the tools to talk about death. We often keep it out of sight, and don’t prepare ourselves or our kids for how to cope with loss. It means people often panic, and say the wrong thing, when it might be better to say nothing at all. 

Molly and Mum. Image: Supplied.

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Living with grief.

Life after loss can never fully return to its original shape, but a new life can emerge. A life which is still full of love, meaning and purpose. 

We make a point of keeping Molly alive in our everyday. We speak about her, remember her, and feel her presence in the beauty of nature, across the green grass of our paddocks, in warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. 

I’ve come to accept that the grief never goes away. It’s a part of my landscape now - a mountain, that’s always in my view, but which on some days casts a longer shadow than others.

Grieving is such a personal thing, everyone will deal with it in their own way. The worst thing you can do is to assume someone “should be over it by now” or to expect them to have “moved on”. I know my daughter Emily struggled with this at school after Molly passed. Some of her teachers couldn’t understand how affected she still was by her sister’s death. 

Grief can be a response to so many things. The loss of a loved one is obvious, but we can also grieve the end of a relationship, a friendship going sour, a job redundancy. Right now, we’re living with the collective grief of losing our ‘normal’ lives and freedoms. 

Give yourself permission to fully sit with the feelings of grief. Be present with the pain. It’s only by feeling things, that we can eventually move through them.

Love, hope and purpose.

If anyone can take anything from my story, I hope it’s that there is a new possibility after loss. Life after death can be beautiful. Losing Molly made me even more aware of how precious life is. How we need to cherish every day, and the people who mean the most to us. 

Eventually, I realised that I could build a more intentional life, guided by Molly. I wouldn’t waste time doing things that didn’t align with my purpose, and I would pour my energy into creating meaningful connections with people, and investing in the relationships which brought me love and joy. 

The Goldspink-Lord family. Image: Supplied/The Hype Girl Project.

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The goal isn’t to be 100 per cent happy every single day. It’s to live a life which is true to you, and to be open to the emotions you’re feeling. 

There was a time after Molly died, where I thought I’d never feel hopeful again. Would never feel happy or laugh until my sides hurt.

But I was wrong, and I’m glad I was. 

As told to Erin Huckle.

Linda Goldspink-Lord is the author of the new memoir Crawling Through the Darkness, available now at www.lindagoldspinklord.com

Crawling Through The Darkness is available now.

Feature Image: Supplied/Linda Goldspink-Lord; The Hype Girl Project.

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