15 years on from her own personal tragedy, Sadie O’Reilly launches a very special book remembering the many young people who left this earth too soon
It was a day Sadie O’Reilly said she would never forget - October 15, 1999.
The day she lost her beloved son Tony to a drugs overdose.
But 15 years to the day Sadie decided to use her own experience to help others by launching a special book ‘Remember Me.’ The book, launched on Wednesday has been printed in memory of young people who left this earth too soon as a result of suicide or addiction.
Speaking at the launch in the City Hotel, Sadie,who set up HURT following Tony’s death said she hoped the book would give people peace of mind.
“I decided to put the book together after meeting a woman who lost her son to suicide, we had a conversation about how many young people in this town had died and how they are not remembered any where at all.
“So we thought about doing a book. I began contacting the families of young people who had died in the town and asked would they like to give me a poem or a story.
“It was then decided that we would call the book ‘Remember Me’ - we wanted to make sure that the young people were remembered not just as statistics but for the people they were. I wanted the book to give people peace of mind, there are people in the book whose families had never put pen to paper after their loved ones died, and I think for them, sitting down and writing was almost like therapy.
“Now they’ll be able to lift the book and remember their son or daughter and know that they haven’t been forgotten.”
Welcoming the publication of the book the Mayor Brenda Stevenson said there is always a need to be honest and open with each other.
“Sometimes we need to take the time in our busy lives to step back and listen to each other, acknowledge when something has gone wrong and then try and find the right support services.”
Local mum Ann McGarrigle spoke about how she lost her son Robert to suicide 19 years ago.
“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” she said. “My big blonde happy go lucky son took his own life, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is not a day goes by but I remember him.
“Robert was 19 and as a mother I felt I had dealt with most of things you deal with as the a mum to a teenage son, untidy rooms, coming home a bit worse for the wear. We talked all the time but never did I discuss suicide or mental health.
“I found the words from Eric Clapton: ‘would you know my name if I saw you in heaven.... I must be strong, and carry on, because I know I don’t belong in heaven. Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure, and I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.’ Just an extract that helped me in those early days.”
Ann revealed how Robert had packed so much into his short life playing rugby for Ireland and Ulster under 18.
“He was known to befriend many in times of trouble, he had friends from all walks of life,” she said.
“But a light went out for ever, an explosion went off in my heart and it was blown all over the place.
“Any bereavement is painful but suicide is extreme and for many reasons then the stigma attached that your loved one chose to take their own life. It’s quite natural to think you are going mad, so high you can’t get over it, so low you can’t get under it. You must go through the door, you must walk the walk, some walk, this walk of grief and loss.
“Do I still cry, yes I do because I miss him so much, there is a longing within me to see, hear or touch him. My vision now would be that no other family would have to experience the effect of suicide upon their lives. My family and I have come a very long way since that dark day but we will never forget Robert, our blonde haired son and brother.”
A number of people contributed to the book including Mark H Durkan who has kindly agreed to let the Journal print the poem he penned about his late sister Gay,
Poem written by Mark H Durkan about sister Gay
I’ve forgotten almost all of what happened that bright Autumn morning
When our lives changed utterly without warning
Taking the call, the feeling of shock and sickness
I swear it rained every day for the next six months as we struggled to find reasons, excuses and blame.
With darkness the struggle goes on, but why fight a battle I cannot win?
I prefer the light I remember you in.
When I feel the heat of the first sun of summer.
When I laugh out loud watching Dumb and Dumber...
Any time I play a prank
Or fight the pain doing the plank
When I’m with the people I love, having fun
Or when I’m out on my own for a run
When I see someone being kind to or caring for others.
I remember that I am one of your brothers.
I really hate that you’re gone -
you gave so much love and brought so much joy.
We had so much craic.
I still do but I miss sharing it with you.
But mostly I feel blessed to have known you
And proud to think I may have shown you
That I was worth your faith in me,
Miss and love you, your brother Mark and family xx