I’ve put off writing about the 2866 glow sticks we lit as a tribute to those we lost to suicide, because in truth I have not really been able to put into words my feelings around this. It was a perfect tribute. The rainbow of colours shinning bright to represent each individual lost, who couldn’t fight their demons anymore. It was instantly recognisable to anyone who witnessed it. Those who came upon us asked questions and through them we were able to begin a conversation on mental health with them and this then sparked the conversation within their own families. Including one mother who was able to explain to her children why we were cracking so many glow sticks. Her eldest daughter understood and appreciated the meaning behind each sticks. Our ultimate goal has always been to get people talking. Opening up about their own mental health journey. Hopefully being able to connect people who need help, with those in their life who really will walk with them through their recovery. Hopefully this connection will help others not to have to go through the same trauma we are.
For us one of those sticks represented someone dearly loved and lost. One of those glow sticks was for him. So as I looked over the butterfly a combination of emotions invaded my senses. When I came up with the idea it was easier to think of the number. I never really associated the glow sticks with Kyle. Standing there looking at the finished mammoth butterfly there was no way I could not think about one of those lights being his. His light and spirit was shinning bright on the dark sand that night. It was over whelming. My husband managed to put into words a clear definition of this tribute. Tragically Beautiful. He was right. I’m honoured to be able to do it. But I’m also sad that there was a need to do it. We both knew and realised we would be doing this again. We knew we couldn’t stop speaking for the dead. Bringing their beautiful story alive one more time for everyone to see. Unfortunately it needs to be done again next year. I personally know two people who have lost someone this year. We are looking forward to the year when we will never have to crack another glow stick for those we lost to suicide.
My husband has been able to describe the night and the meaning behind the tribute perfectly. These are his words:
“On a cool, slightly breezy Saturday evening in October, on a beach in North Wollongong, we came together to light 2866 glow sticks. One for each lost soul. One for each family mourning and having to travel the same path we are on. One stick for each suicide combining to form one picture of light.
For a few hours on that dark and quiet beach, each glow stick came to life. Every warm radiation representing a soul gone from this earth but most definitely, not forgotten. A powerful metaphor where each glow stick formed the ribbon for suicide loss and bereavement, morphing into a big and beautiful butterfly, representing rebirth and new life. Those of us who are left to carry on are forever changed, often seeing each day as a challenge and we are unable to get over the tragic loss.
Through us and our actions, their memory will continue. Their light will shine on. As we lit the individual sticks our thoughts went to each and every family that mourns. Not only from last year, but for all of those who are missing someone because of suicide.
Please know that your fight is recognised. Your memories keep those who have departed alive. We hope you feel the power of each vivid light wrap around you all.
Please help us Break the Silence on mental health. Share the above video with those you know. Help let their memory live on through you. Begin a conversation with your family and friends. Help make it OK too:
“REACH OUT, REMEMBER THE LOST, SAY THE WORD’
Someone YOU know is today fighting mental illness.
Someone YOU know today wants to help you get help.
Someone You know today is struggling with the loss of a loved one.
Keep the conversation going;