Love’s Legacy

The death of child is a tragic loss. It is a reversal of the natural order of things and a profound violation of how life ought be. It brings in its wake a heartache beyond words to describe.

It is a heartache that no family should have to experience. The death of a child ushers in a complex journey that requires the bereaved to transition from the world that was to the world that will be, to rebuild ’a new normal’.

Bereaved families have no choice in the death of their child. They do have choices in how they will shape themselves and their lives in the time to come. The chaos of bereavement can give life to new and different ways of being.

The Anthoney family is one very eloquent example of choices made that aim to continue a legacy of love.

Death, fundamentally, is the cessation of breath. Drawing on the spirit of Dainere Anthoney, the Anthoney family are breathing life into those things that their daughter and sister was passionate about …… namely to raise awareness about and generate funds for brain tumor research. The goal for Dainere was to work towards a future where hopefully no family has to endure the heartache of brain cancer and treatment and death from that disease.

Death ends a physical life but it does not end a relationship.

There is a natural desire for most people to find ways to keep a loved one present, albeit in a different way. No-one wants to leave their loved ones behind.

The language that is commonly used around grief e.g ‘moving forward’, ‘putting it behind you‘ belies this fundamental human urge.

Obviously, in a physical sense, someone who has died cannot move into tomorrows. However, in my experience, the bereaved develop new ways of staying connected to those who have died. They find ways of re-membering loved ones into their lives, finding ways for the person who died to continue being a member of the family in a non-physical way.

We do not need the physical presence of someone to have them influence, inspire or shape our lives. Many parents I meet speak of an increasing sense of their child continuing to play a part in how their families choose to live their lives in the time after death. The death of a child can have, and continue to have, an ongoing influence on how people think and feel, what decisions are made about life, how they interact with others, on life’s priorities. Many speak of their child being an ongoing inspiration to the immediate family and also to the wider community. This could most certainly be said of Dainere Anthoney.

From the time of her diagnosis, she displayed a courage and generosity of spirit whereby she used the challenging reality of her own circumstances to become a voice for raising awareness and raising funds for research into her disease .

She never questioned the fairness of her situation but sought to use it to better the condition of others. I was not fortunate to have met Dainere in person but am deeply touched by the stories her family have told me about her strength, courage and bravery. Through her family, I feel I have come to know her.

In life she touched the hearts of many. Eloquent testimony to the fact that love never dies is that she continues to have a powerful and profound effect on many in death. Dainere’s family have embraced her passion for brain cancer research and are committed to ensuring that Dainere’s goals are continued. In so doing they find solace for their heartache. In being of service to others, they find their own pain lessened in the knowledge that Dainere would be delighted to know that her commitment to this very important area is being nourished in her name. Additionally, in carrying out what they believe to be Dainere’s wishes, the Anthoney family find there is a strong sense of Dainere’s spirit alongside them. In this way, some semblance of meaning and purpose can be crafted from the brokenness of bereavement.

Vera Russell
B.Soc.St, M.Health Studies (Loss and Grief)
Palliative Care/Bereavement

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we meet and work, the Ngunnawal people, and the many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia who have now made Canberra their home. We celebrate and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of the ACT and region.

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